How to Find the Right Trucking School near Russellville Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Russellville AR. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Russellville home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Russellville AR, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. Some 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Russellville AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Russellville AR area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Russellville AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple 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 provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. 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 good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Russellville AR schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide ample 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard 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 Russellville AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Russellville AR schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Russellville AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering 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 employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Russellville AR employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Russellville AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Russellville AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Russellville Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Russellville is the county seat and largest city in Pope County, Arkansas, United States, with a population of 27,920, according to the 2010 Census. It is home to Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas' only nuclear power plant. Russellville borders Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River.
Before the town was named Russellville, it was known as Chactas Prairie, The Prairie, or Cactus Flats. In the early 19th century, Osage from Missouri hunted frequently in the valley where Russellville is located. Between 1818 and 1828, the area was within a Cherokee reservation, but after 1828 the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and the land became available for white settlement. The first settler in the area was P.C. Holledger in 1834.
One year later, Dr. Thomas Russell bought Holledger's house. The first business to be established in the town was owned by Mr. Shinn, who later built a masonry structure to replace his wooden store in 1875. This building still exists today, and is known as the Shinn Building. It was built at the intersection of an east-west road from Little Rock to Fort Smith and a north-south buffalo trail to a ford on the Arkansas River. Early travelers used these established trails to pass through the valley. When the town's residents decided to name the town, it came down to two choices: Shinnville or Russellville, and Russellville won.
Trucking Schools Russellville AR
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Trucking Schools. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Russellville AR.
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