How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver School near El Dorado Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near El Dorado AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking 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 final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your El Dorado residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and El Dorado AR, an operator 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. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 CDL is needed to drive 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. Several 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the El Dorado AR trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the El Dorado AR area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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 standard, and that they will get lots 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top El Dorado AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use 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 supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most El Dorado AR schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the El Dorado AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive 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 instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the El Dorado AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the El Dorado AR school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many El Dorado AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other El Dorado AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
How To Become Truck Driver El Dorado Arkansas
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance 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 to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Become Truck Driver and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver Classes. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in El Dorado AR.
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El Dorado, Arkansas
El Dorado is headquarters of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission as well as Murphy Oil, Murphy USA, Deltic Timber Corporation and a DelekUS oil refinery. The city has a nationally-recognized downtown arts district, the Murphy Arts District (MAD); a community college, South Arkansas Community College (SouthArk); and a multi-cultural arts center, South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC). El Dorado is the population, cultural and business center of south central Arkansas.
The city was the heart of the 1920s oil boom in the area. During World War II, it became a center of the chemical industry, which still plays a part in the economy, as do oil and timber. El Dorado is located approximately 120 miles (190 km) from the state capital of Little Rock.
El Dorado is located at 33°12′49″N 92°39′45″W / 33.21361°N 92.66250°W / 33.21361; -92.66250 (33.213521, -92.662553). in Union County, Arkansas in the southern part of the state. Union County is the largest county in the state of Arkansas and borders the state of Louisiana. The area has the unique feature of sharing its border with eight counties and parishes: Ouachita; Calhoun; Bradley; Columbia; Ashley; Claiborne Parish; Union Parish; and Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. El Dorado is the largest urban population center in its region.