How to Pick the Right CDL Driving School near Van Buren Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Van Buren AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. 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 evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Van Buren home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Van Buren AR, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply 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 discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 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 more 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain 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 licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Van Buren AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Van Buren AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Van Buren AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, 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 attention they will need. This is especially 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 period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Van Buren AR schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Van Buren AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Van Buren AR schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 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 looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Van Buren AR school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Van Buren AR employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Van Buren AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. 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 must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Van Buren AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Van Buren Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Van Buren, Arkansas
Van Buren /væn ˈbjʊərən/ is the second largest city in the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area and the county seat of Crawford County, Arkansas, United States. The city is located directly northeast of Fort Smith at the Interstate 40 - Interstate 540 junction. The city was incorporated in 1845 and as of the 2010 census had a population of 22,791, ranking it as the state's 22nd largest city, behind Searcy.
The area was settled by David Boyd and Thomas Martin in 1818. After Arkansas became a territory in 1819 Daniel and Thomas Phillips constructed a lumber yard in the community to serve as a fuel depot for traffic along the Arkansas River. In 1831 a post office was constructed for the community, at the time known as Phillips Landing. This post office was named after the newly appointed Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren.
John Drennen, along with his partner David Thompson, purchased the area for US$11,000. They moved their business of supplying firewood for steamboats to this new location on higher ground. The courthouse was constructed on a lot of land donated by Drennen on the condition that Van Buren become the county seat. The Drennen Reserve is one of the town's existing historical sites from the 1830s.
Commercial Driving School Van Buren AR
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Commercial Driving School. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need 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 driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Van Buren AR.
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