How to Choose the Best Trucker School near Bella Vista Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Bella Vista AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Bella Vista home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Bella Vista AR, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Bella Vista AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Bella Vista AR area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bella Vista AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Bella Vista AR schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bella Vista AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Bella Vista AR schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Bella Vista AR school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Bella Vista AR employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Bella Vista AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Bella Vista AR Truck Driving Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Bella Vista AR.