How to Choose a CDL Training School near Tupelo Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Tupelo AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Tupelo residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Tupelo AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the 2 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. A few 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Tupelo AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Tupelo AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered 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 caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Tupelo AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance 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 good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher 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 be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Tupelo AR schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Tupelo AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get 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 amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Tupelo AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide 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 indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Tupelo AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Tupelo AR employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Tupelo AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Tupelo AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tupelo 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 177 people, 76 households, and 50 families residing in the town. The population density was 220.5/km² (568.5/mi²). There were 93 housing units at an average density of 115.8/km² (298.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.44% White, 0.56% from other races. 1.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 76 households out of which 22.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.80.
In the town, the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.0 males.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Tupelo AR
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. 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 short on cash or financing, you may need to think about 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 select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Tupelo AR.
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