How to Choose the Best Trucker Classes near Augusta Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Augusta AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Augusta residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Augusta AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address 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 short descriptions for the two 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 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 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. 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Augusta AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Augusta AR area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost 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 quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Augusta AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no 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 watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Augusta AR schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher 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 instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Augusta AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Augusta AR schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Augusta AR school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Augusta AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Augusta 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
CDL Driving School Augusta Arkansas
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Driving School and wanting information on the topic How To Get Class B CDL. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Augusta AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Augusta is a city in Woodruff County, Arkansas, United States, located on the east bank of the White River. The population was 2,693 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Woodruff County.
Augusta is located at 35°17′11″N 91°21′39″W / 35.28639°N 91.36083°W / 35.28639; -91.36083 (35.286501, -91.360935). Augusta is located approximately 75 miles (121 km) northeast of Little Rock and 81 miles (130 km) west of Memphis, Tennessee.[Note 1] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2), all land.
Augusta is located in the Arkansas Delta, one of the six primary geographic regions of Arkansas. The Arkansas Delta is a subregion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, which is a flat area consisting of rich, fertile sediment deposits from the Mississippi River between Louisiana and Illinois. Prior to settlement, Woodruff County was densely forested, with bayous, sloughs, and swamps crossing the land. Seeking to take advantage of the area's fertile soils, settlers cleared the land to better suit row crops.