How to Pick the Best Truck Driver Classes near Brinkley Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Brinkley AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Brinkley home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Brinkley AR, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief explanations 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. Some 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 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 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 certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Brinkley AR trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Brinkley AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Brinkley AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, 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 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 skillfully requires time. Most Brinkley AR schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Brinkley AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Brinkley AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Brinkley AR school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Brinkley AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Brinkley AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
How To Choose A CDL Driving School Brinkley Arkansas
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Choose A CDL Driving School and wanting information on the topic Semi Truck Driving School. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Brinkley AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Brinkley is the most populous city in Monroe County, Arkansas, United States. Located within the Arkansas Delta, Brinkley was founded as a railroad town in 1872. The city has historically been a transportation and agricultural center in the region, more recently developing a reputation for outdoors recreation and the ivory-billed woodpecker. Birding has become important to the city and region following the discovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in 2004, a species thought to be extinct 60 years earlier. Located halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tennessee, the city has used the slogan "We'll Meet You Half-Way" in some of its advertising campaigns. The population was 3,188 at the 2010 census.
In 1852, a land grant for the construction of rail lines was given to the Little Rock and Memphis Railroad Company, led by Robert Campbell Brinkley as its president. Robert C. Brinkley, born in North Carolina, lived in Memphis where he served a public career of "noble deeds and generous conduct" and for many years served as president of Planters Bank of Memphis.
Between 1852 and 1869, the settlement was called "Lick Skillet." When the day's work was completed, the railroad construction crew, mostly all immigrants from neighboring towns, cooked their supper over an open fire and returned to their homes when the last "skillet was licked."