How to Decide on the Right Trucking Classes near Fayetteville Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Fayetteville AR. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Fayetteville home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Fayetteville AR, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving 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). Below are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is needed 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. Several 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, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Fayetteville AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Fayetteville AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Fayetteville AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Fayetteville AR schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Fayetteville AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Fayetteville AR schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Fayetteville AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time 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 holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fayetteville AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Fayetteville 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Find Out More About Fayetteville Truck Driver Schools
Select the Best Fayetteville AR CDL Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several 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 America move as a professional truck driver in Fayetteville AR.