How to Enroll in the Best Trucking School near Sherwood Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Sherwood AR. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Sherwood residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Sherwood AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school 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 CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Sherwood AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Sherwood AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Sherwood AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Sherwood AR schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Sherwood AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different 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 work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Sherwood AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted 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 locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Sherwood AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Sherwood AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Sherwood 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 assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Sherwood AR CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking 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 regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Sherwood AR.