How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Little Rock Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Little Rock AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Little Rock residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make certain you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Little Rock 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 driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 descriptions of the 2 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 CDL 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Little Rock AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Little Rock AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Little Rock AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Little Rock AR schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Little Rock AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships 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 freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Little Rock 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Little Rock AR school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Little Rock AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Little Rock 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Little Rock AR Truck Driving Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Little Rock AR.