How to Decide on the Right CDL Driving Classes near Rogers Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Rogers AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Rogers home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Rogers AR, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class 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 short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Rogers AR trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Rogers AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Rogers AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction 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 teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Rogers AR schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may 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 talk to 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Rogers AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Rogers AR schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Rogers AR school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Rogers AR employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Rogers AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Right Rogers AR CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, 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 funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Rogers AR.