How to Choose the Right Trucker School near Rogers Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Rogers AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Rogers home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to ensure you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder 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 Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Rogers AR, an operator 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 choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and 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). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 CDL is needed to drive 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. Several of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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 specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Rogers AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Rogers AR area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Rogers AR schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced 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. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving 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 training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. 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 researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Rogers AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Rogers AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Rogers AR employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Rogers AR CDL Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession 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 many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Rogers AR.