How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Swifton Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Swifton AR. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Swifton home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Swifton 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 discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is needed 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 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Swifton AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Swifton AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Swifton AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Swifton AR schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional 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. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide plenty 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Swifton AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Swifton AR schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Swifton AR school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Swifton AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Swifton AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Swifton AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Swifton Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 871 people, 335 households, and 245 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,752.3 people per square mile (672.6/km²). There were 365 housing units at an average density of 734.3/sq mi (281.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.93% White, 0.46% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 1.03% from other races, and 0.46% from two or more races. 2.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 335 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.6% were non-families. 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.09.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.
Choose the Ideal Trucking School Swifton AR
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Swifton AR.
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