How to Select the Best Trucker School near Sherwood Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sherwood AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Sherwood home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Sherwood AR, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 greater 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Sherwood AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Sherwood AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 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. On the other hand, even the top Sherwood AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Sherwood AR schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, 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 level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sherwood AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. 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 independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Sherwood AR school you choose offers 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 working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Sherwood AR employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Best Sherwood AR CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, 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 joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Sherwood AR.