How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driving School near Sherwood Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Sherwood AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Sherwood residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance 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 Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Sherwood AR, an operator needs to 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief 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 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 operate 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Sherwood AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Sherwood AR area are accredited due to the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Sherwood AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior 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 confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Sherwood AR schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative 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 a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sherwood AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Sherwood AR schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Sherwood AR school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty 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 attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired 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. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Sherwood AR employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Sherwood AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Sherwood AR Truck Driving Training
Selecting the right trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm 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 entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Sherwood AR.