How to Decide on the Best Truck Driver 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 dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Rogers home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review 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, 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. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Rogers AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Rogers AR area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Rogers AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look 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 professionally takes time. The majority of Rogers AR schools offer 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 Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide lots 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although 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 Rogers AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer 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 choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Rogers AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some 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 considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Rogers AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Rogers AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Rogers AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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 must be completed.
Select the Best Rogers AR CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance 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 offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Rogers AR.