How to Select the Best CDL Training Classes near Bella Vista Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Bella Vista AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Bella Vista residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll get the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Bella Vista AR, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 needed to operate 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 operators may be qualified to drive 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Bella Vista AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Bella Vista AR area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated 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 first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Bella Vista AR schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Bella Vista AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Bella Vista AR schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Bella Vista AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify 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 national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Bella Vista AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar 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. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Bella Vista AR CDL Driver Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Bella Vista AR.