How to Pick the Best Trucking Classes near Springdale Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Springdale AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Springdale home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you'll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Springdale AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight 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). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 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. A few 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Springdale 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 emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Springdale AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Springdale AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction 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 insists it can teach 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 Springdale AR schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained 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 successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide plenty 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among 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 Springdale AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Springdale AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Springdale AR school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Springdale AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Springdale AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Best Springdale AR CDL Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Springdale AR.