How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Pickens Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Pickens AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Pickens home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance 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 Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Pickens AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 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 CDL is required 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Pickens AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Pickens AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Pickens AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Pickens AR schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential 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 requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs 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 Pickens AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Pickens AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? 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, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Pickens 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 willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin 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 graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Pickens AR employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Pickens AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pickens AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pickens Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Louis Burton Lindley Jr. (June 29, 1919 – December 8, 1983), better known by his stage name Slim Pickens, was an American rodeo performer and film and television actor. During much of his career, Pickens played mainly cowboy roles, and is perhaps best remembered today for his comic roles in Dr. Strangelove and Blazing Saddles.
Louis Burton Lindley Jr. was born in Kingsburg, California, the son of Sally Mosher (née Turk) and Louis Bert Lindley Sr., a Texas-born dairy farmer. Young Lindley was an excellent horse rider from an early age. Known as "Bert" to his family and friends, he grew bored with dairy farming and began to make a few dollars by riding broncos and roping steers in his early teens. His father found out and forbade this activity but he took no notice, went to compete in a rodeo, and was told by the doubtful rodeo manager that there would be "slim pickin's" for him.
To prevent his father from discovering that he had competed, he entered his name as Slim Pickens and won $400 that afternoon. Lindley graduated from Hanford High School, Hanford, California, and was a member of the Future Farmers of America. He joined the rodeo, billed as Slim Pickens, and eventually became a well-known rodeo clown.
Select the Best CDL School Pickens AR
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to consider 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 truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Pickens AR.
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