How to Choose the Best CDL Driving School near Huntsville Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Huntsville AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Huntsville residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Huntsville AR, an operator must attain 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 pick a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the two 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 greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Huntsville AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Huntsville 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Huntsville AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Huntsville AR schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Huntsville AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Huntsville AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indicator 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 brief term, it’s important that the Huntsville AR school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Huntsville AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Huntsville AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
CDL Training Schools Huntsville 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 skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training Schools and wanting information on the topic CDL A School. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Huntsville AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Huntsville is a city in Madison County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 2,346 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Madison County, located in the northwest corner of the state. During the American Civil War in 1862, it was the site of what became known as the Huntsville Massacre.
Huntsville was named for John Hunt, considered the founder of the settlement. Huntsville incorporated as a town after the Civil War in 1877. The community was incorporated as a city on July 16, 1925.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,931 people, 761 households, and 493 families residing in the city. The population density was 640.0 people per square mile (246.9/km²). There were 853 housing units at an average density of 282.7/sq mi (109.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.21% White, 0.10% Black or African American, 2.12% Native American, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 6.53% from other races, and 0.83% from two or more races. 12.79% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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