How to Select the Best Trucking School near De Valls Bluff Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near De Valls Bluff AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your De Valls Bluff residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and De Valls Bluff AR, an operator needs to 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. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the De Valls Bluff AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the De Valls Bluff AR area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of De Valls Bluff AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach 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 De Valls Bluff AR schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the De Valls Bluff AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the De Valls Bluff AR schools you are looking at are captive or independent 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 driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the De Valls Bluff AR school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend 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 Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few De Valls Bluff AR employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other De Valls Bluff AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
How To Become A Trucker De Valls Bluff Arkansas
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession 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 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 How To Become A Trucker and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Schools. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in De Valls Bluff AR.
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DeValls Bluff, Arkansas
Prairie County has always been important to Arkansas for the transportation of people and goods throughout the state. Initially, it was the White River that gave the agricultural county its importance for transport, since waterways were the primary means of transportation in the period before the Louisiana Purchase. Prairie County was cut from Arkansas, Pulaski, Monroe, St. Francis, and White counties in 1846 and included present-day Lonoke County. European settlement in Prairie County came in the late 19th century, with Jacob M. DeVall and his son, Chappel, becoming the first recorded settlers around DeValls Bluff according to 1851 tax records.
During the Civil War, the city held strategic importance along the White River, which continued to be the primary shipping corridor when the Arkansas River was non-navigable. A railroad connection between North Little Rock and DeValls Bluff gave the city further strategic importance. Union forces traveling up the White from Arkansas Post under the command of Brigadier General Willis Gorman captured DeValls Bluff on January 18, 1863. However, the Union forces would eventually return to Arkansas Post, and the city returned to Confederate control. Following the capture of Little Rock, Union cavalry led by Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson joined with gunboats under the command of Lieutenant George Bache in Clarendon on August 9, 1863 and traveled up the White River to capture DeValls Bluff. Major General Frederick Steele proceeded to DeValls Bluff from Helena, and the city was used to house supplies and injured Union soldiers for the remainder of the war.
DeValls Bluff is located at 34°47′5″N 91°27′37″W / 34.78472°N 91.46028°W / 34.78472; -91.46028 (34.784760, -91.460346). The city is located within the Grand Prairie section of Prairie County, a subdivision of the Mississippi embayment within the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Historically, the Grand Prairie was a flat grassland between the Arkansas River and the White River. However, the area was subject to clear cutting for row agriculture by early settlers. Today, the area is defined by rice cultivation, aquaculture and duck hunting.