How to Choose the Right 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 highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Rogers residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Rogers AR, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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. 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 drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Rogers AR trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Rogers AR area are accredited because of the demanding 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 several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Rogers AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple 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 provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Rogers AR schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some 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? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Rogers AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of 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 having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver 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 ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Rogers AR schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Rogers 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage 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 lower job placement rate or few Rogers AR employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Rogers AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. 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 submitted.
Choose the Best Rogers AR CDL Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Rogers AR.