How to Enroll in the Best CDL Driving Classes near Jonesboro Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Jonesboro AR. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Jonesboro home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Jonesboro AR, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify 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 focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Jonesboro AR trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Jonesboro AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Jonesboro AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Jonesboro AR schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Jonesboro AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Jonesboro AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Jonesboro AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit 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 must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Jonesboro AR employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Jonesboro AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Jonesboro AR CDL Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need 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 select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Jonesboro AR.