How to Choose the Best Truck Driver School near Chester Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Chester AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Chester home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Chester AR, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving 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 for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 greater 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 kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Chester AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Chester AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Chester AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several 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 provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Chester AR schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified 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 an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Chester AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver 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 many different 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Chester AR schools you are contemplating 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 permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Chester AR school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Chester AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Chester 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
CDL A Training Chester Arkansas
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical 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 forge 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 A Training and wanting information on the topic Cost For CDL Training. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into 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 trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Chester AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Chester is a town in Crawford County, Arkansas, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 Census the population was 159. The population was 99 at the 2000 census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 99 people, 35 households, and 26 families residing in the town. The population density was 76.4/km² (197.1/mi²). There were 46 housing units at an average density of 35.5/km² (91.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 89.90% White and 10.10% Native American. 2.02% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 35 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 20.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.15.