How to Pick the Best CDL Training School near Alix Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Alix AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Alix residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Alix AR, a driver needs to 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 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). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Alix AR truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Alix AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Alix AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Alix AR schools offer training courses 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 Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Alix AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive 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 affiliations with many different 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 freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Alix AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Alix 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 certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Alix AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Alix AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Training For Truck Drivers Alix Arkansas
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Training For Truck Drivers and wanting information on the topic A Class Driving School. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Alix AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Arkansas Highway 186
Highway 186 (AR 186, Ark. 186, and Hwy. 186) is an east–west state highway in Franklin County, Arkansas. The route of 9.54 miles (15.35 km) runs north from Coal Road at Alix through Altus to Philpot Road north of Interstate 40.
The route begins at County Route 97 (Coal Road) at Alix and runs north and west to Altus. After crossing US 64, AR 186 continues north to pass the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and enter the Wiederhekr Village corporate limits. The road meets I-40 at exit 41 at a full interchange. Highway 186 continues north to terminate at County Road 90 (Philpot Road).