How to Choose the Best CDL Driving School near Saint Charles Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Saint Charles AR. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Saint Charles home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Saint Charles AR, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Saint Charles AR truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Saint Charles AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Saint Charles AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Saint Charles AR schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Saint Charles AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to 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 only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Saint Charles AR schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Saint Charles AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Saint Charles AR employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Saint Charles AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask 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.
Class A Truck Driving Schools Saint Charles Arkansas
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class A Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic Class B License Training. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Saint Charles AR.
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St. Charles, Arkansas
St. Charles is a town in Arkansas County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 230 at the 2010 census. The small town has been at the center of various events in Arkansas' history. St. Charles is best known for the Battle of Saint Charles, which was fought on the White River, which borders the town. St. Charles is also known for being in the White River National Wildlife Refuge.
The area known as St, Charles was within the territory of the Middle Mississippian culture during the Woodland Period of Native American History. In early modern times, possibly after Hernando De Soto's initial exploration of the American Southeast, the area encompassing the whole of Arkansas County and much of Eastern Arkansas became Quapaw territory and remained so until the arrival of French explorers in the 17th Century. After American settlers started to move into the Arkansas territory, A treaty signed in 1818 moved most all of the Quapaw from what is now Arkansas County to the center of the state. By 1833, the Quapaw were no longer in Arkansas. The first settler to set foot in what is Now St. Charles was French Coureur des Bois Pierre Pertuis, who moved to the area after having purchased land from the 1797 Spanish land grant. By 1839, Charles W. Belknap owned the site, known briefly as Belknap’s Bluff. He built an adobe house, one of only a few found on the Arkansas frontier. The house served as a hospital for both sides in the Civil War and was a longtime landmark. The name St. Charles first appears with Belknap’s appointment as postmaster in 1850. He platted the town and began selling lots. St. Charles flourished during the 1850s with the shipping of various products on the river. During the Arkansas' territorial period, The county seat was moved from Arkansas Post to Dewitt after many of the larger settlements, including St. Charles, wished to take power from Arkansas post after the Territorial capitol was moved to Little Rock.
St. Charles is the site of the most deadly single shot of the American Civil War. On 17 June 1862, at the Battle of Saint Charles, eight Federal vessels including the ironclad gunboat USS Mound City attempted to pass Confederate shore guns here, on the banks of the White River. A single shot from a Confederate cannon entered the Mound City and penetrated her steam drum. The resulting explosion and release of scalding steam killed most of her crew, approximately 129 men.