How to Pick the Right CDL Training School near Rogers Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Rogers AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Rogers home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your objective 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 goal 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Rogers AR, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address 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 short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 CDL is needed 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Rogers AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Rogers AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically 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 opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Rogers AR schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty 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. While 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 be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Rogers AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain 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 amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Rogers AR school you select 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Rogers AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Rogers AR CDL Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Rogers AR.