How to Pick the Right CDL Driving School near Russellville Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Russellville AR. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Russellville home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Russellville AR, an operator 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 topic 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 CDL is required to operate 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Russellville AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Russellville AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess 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. On the other hand, even the top Russellville AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department 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 employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Russellville AR schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Russellville 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 free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Russellville AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 battling 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 higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Russellville AR school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Russellville AR employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Russellville AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Local Truck Driving Schools Russellville Arkansas
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Local Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic Cheap CDL Training. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Russellville AR.
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Russellville is the county seat and largest city in Pope County, Arkansas, United States, with a population of 27,920, according to the 2010 Census. It is home to Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas' only nuclear power plant. Russellville borders Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River.
Before the town was named Russellville, it was known as Chactas Prairie, The Prairie, or Cactus Flats. In the early 19th century, Osage from Missouri hunted frequently in the valley where Russellville is located. Between 1818 and 1828, the area was within a Cherokee reservation, but after 1828 the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and the land became available for white settlement. The first settler in the area was P.C. Holledger in 1834.
One year later, Dr. Thomas Russell bought Holledger's house. The first business to be established in the town was owned by Mr. Shinn, who later built a masonry structure to replace his wooden store in 1875. This building still exists today, and is known as the Shinn Building. It was built at the intersection of an east-west road from Little Rock to Fort Smith and a north-south buffalo trail to a ford on the Arkansas River. Early travelers used these established trails to pass through the valley. When the town's residents decided to name the town, it came down to two choices: Shinnville or Russellville, and Russellville won.