How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Little Rock Air Force Base Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Little Rock Air Force Base AR. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Little Rock Air Force Base residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Little Rock Air Force Base AR, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address 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 short explanations of the two 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. 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Little Rock Air Force Base AR trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Little Rock Air Force Base AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided 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 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Little Rock Air Force Base AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use 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 numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local 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 students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio 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 be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Little Rock Air Force Base AR schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few 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, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Little Rock Air Force Base AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally 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 obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Little Rock Air Force Base AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are looking at 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 centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Little Rock Air Force Base AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Little Rock Air Force Base AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Little Rock Air Force Base AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Little Rock Air Force Base AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Little Rock Air Force Base Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Little Rock Air Force Base
Little Rock AFB is the primary C-130 Hercules training base for the Department of Defense, training C-130 pilots, navigators, flight engineers, and loadmasters from all branches of the US military in tactical airlift and aerial delivery. It is home to C-130H and C-130J aircraft, as well as the C-130 Center of Excellence (i.e., schools for C-130H and C-130J crews).
The host unit at Little Rock AFB is the 19th Airlift Wing (19 AW), assigned to the Air Mobility Command 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Force. The wing provides the Department of Defense the largest C-130 Hercules transport fleet in the world, supplying humanitarian airlift relief to victims of disasters, as well as airdropping supplies and troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.
Other organizations at Little Rock AFB include the 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, and the C-130 division of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. All of these organizations fly the C-130 Hercules.
Select the Best Trucking School Little Rock Air Force Base AR
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving 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 obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Little Rock Air Force Base AR.
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