How to Pick the Best Trucker School near Charleston Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Charleston AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Charleston residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Charleston AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Charleston AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Charleston AR area are accredited due to 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Charleston AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Charleston AR schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier 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 qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential 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. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Charleston AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous 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 have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Charleston AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd 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 looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Charleston AR school you enroll in 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 instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Charleston AR employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Charleston AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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 submitted.
CDL Driver Training Charleston Arkansas
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Driver Training and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving School Tuition. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Charleston AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Charleston is a city in Franklin County, Arkansas, United States, and (along with Ozark) one of the two county seats of Franklin County. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,522 at the 2010 census, down from 2,965 in 2000.
In 1954, Charleston was the first school district in the former Confederate States to implement school integration in response to Brown v. Board of Education. On July 27, 1954, the school board, including President Howard Madison Orsburn, George Hairston, Archibald Schaffer, Herbert Shumate, and Homer Keith, unanimously voted to "disband the Colored School and admit the Colored children into the grade and high school when classes open for the fall semester." Accordingly, when the schools opened on August 23, 11 black children were in attendance alongside 480 whites. School Superintendent Woodie Haynes made an agreement with the local press not to cover the event, and stonewalled any outside reporters that asked questions. The decision to integrate had financial benefits, as the district had been paying a considerable sum to transport black high school students to Fort Smith, and were able to close the old Rosenwald school. Charleston suffered some discrimination from other schools and the state; many schools refused to play football against them and the band was denied the opportunity to play in some band competitions. In 1961, the first two black students to graduate from Charleston were Barbara (Williams) Dotson and Joe Ferguson.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Charleston has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.4 km2), of which 4.3 square miles (11.1 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2), or 2.53%, is water.