How to Find a CDL Training School near Tucker Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Tucker AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Tucker home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Tucker AR, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Tucker AR truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Tucker AR area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with 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 business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Tucker AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Tucker AR schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty of 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among 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. Check with the Tucker AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly 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 get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Tucker AR schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Tucker AR school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at 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 firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Tucker AR employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Tucker AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Tucker AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tucker Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
In 1871 John Woodfin Tucker established the Tucker Plantation, named after his wife, Sarah E. Tucker. The plantation, which mostly produced cotton, expanded to occupy 2,800 acres (1,100 ha). Paid farmworkers and resident sharecroppers worked the land. The Tucker family managed the post office and the store.
The Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) operates the ADC Complex in Tucker; the complex is off Arkansas Highway 15, 9 miles (14 km) south of England and 25 miles (40 km) north of Pine Bluff. The two prison units in the complex are the Tucker Unit and the Maximum Security Unit. The ADC training academy, the Willis S. Sargent Training Academy, is in the complex, adjacent to the Maximum Security and Tucker units.
In 1916 the state purchased 4,400 acres (1,800 ha) of land to establish the Tucker Unit. In 1933 the death chamber moved from the Arkansas State Penitentiary to the Tucker Unit, because the penitentiary closed. The final execution at Tucker, before the death penalty in Arkansas was declared to be unconstitutional, took place in 1964. In 1974 male death row inmates, previously at the Tucker Unit, were moved to the Cummins Unit, which is not in Tucker. In 1978 a new death chamber opened in Cummins, so Tucker Unit was no longer the point of execution. In 1986, male death row inmates were moved to the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker. In 2000, the ADC training academy moved to its current location from the former Barnes School building. On Friday August 22, 2003, all 39 Arkansas death row inmates were moved from the Maximum Security Unit to the Supermax at the Varner Unit, which is not in Tucker.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Tucker AR
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive 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 an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Tucker AR.
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