How to Find the Right Truck Driving School near Okolona Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Okolona AR. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Okolona residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Okolona AR, a driver 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. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required to operate 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. 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 may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Okolona AR truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Okolona AR area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Okolona AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Okolona AR schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask 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 trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Okolona AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement 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 offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Okolona AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. 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 contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Okolona 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Okolona AR employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Okolona AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out 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.
Get Class A CDL Okolona Arkansas
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Get Class A CDL and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Training Schools. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need 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 select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Okolona AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
The Battle of Elkin's Ferry of the Civil War was fought here during April 3–4, 1864, as a part of the Camden Expedition. Union forces, led by Maj. Gen. Fred Steele, sought to ford the Little Missouri River, as the local roads were impassable. The force reached Elkin's Ferry before the Confederate cavalry brigades, led by Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke, and the Confederates were defeated.
Okolona is located in western Clark County at 34°0′2″N 93°20′15″W / 34.00056°N 93.33750°W / 34.00056; -93.33750 (34.000589, -93.337362).Arkansas Highway 51 passes through the community, leading northeast 21 miles (34 km) to Arkadelphia, the county seat, and south 8 miles (13 km) to Interstate 30.
As of the census of 2000, there were 160 people, 70 households, and 45 families residing in the town. The population density was 79.2/km² (204.8/mi²). There were 86 housing units at an average density of 42.6/km² (110.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 68.12% White and 31.88% Black or African American.