How to Select the Right Trucking School near Prescott Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Prescott AR. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Prescott residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Prescott AR, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Prescott AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Prescott AR area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving 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. Having said that, even the top Prescott AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure 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 teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk 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 obtaining the personalized instruction 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Prescott AR schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. 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 ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction 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 reasonable 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 Prescott AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Prescott AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Prescott AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Prescott AR employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Prescott 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Driving Truck School Prescott Arkansas
Picking the right truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught 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 Driving Truck School and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving School Requirements. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Prescott AR.
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Prescott is a city and the county seat of Nevada County, Arkansas, United States. The community had a population of 3,868 at the 2000 census. Prescott is part of the Hope Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Located 100 miles southwest of Little Rock, Prescott was developed on the Prairie D'Âne, named by French colonists before the United States acquired this area. The prairie consisted of approximately 25–30 square miles of rolling open land, surrounded by forest. The area had been a well-known crossroads prior to construction of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad. To the west lies the city of Washington, to the east lies the city of Camden, while to the south lies the Red River, with Shreveport, Texarkana, and Dallas beyond.
As of 2014, Prescott and Nevada County had sixteen properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Elkin's Ferry Battleground and the Prairie D'Ane Battlefield are further recognized as National Historic Landmarks within a National Historic Landmark District.