How to Pick a Trucking School near Ashdown Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Ashdown AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Ashdown home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Arkansas and within the USA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Ashdown AR, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 for 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. 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Ashdown AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Ashdown AR trucking schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Ashdown AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. 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 personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Ashdown AR schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of 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 important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the Ashdown AR school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Ashdown AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain Ashdown AR truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the Ashdown AR schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Ashdown AR school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession in Ashdown AR. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other 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 assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted in Ashdown AR.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you should ready some approaches about how you want to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Ashdown AR
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Ashdown AR.
A Bit About Ashdown Arkansas
Ashdown (formerly Turkey Flats and Keller) is a city in Little River County, Arkansas. The community was incorporated in 1892 and has been the county seat since 1906. Located within the Arkansas Timberlands between the Little River and the Red River, Ashdown's economy and development have historically been tied to the timber industry, a trend that continues to this day. Ashdown's population at the 2010 census was 4,723, a slight decrease from the 2000 census. The city's well-preserved history and proximity to outdoor recreation such as Millwood State Park draws tourists to the area. Although not within the Texarkana metropolitan area, the city's proximity to Texarkana impacts many areas of life in Ashdown.
Founded as a small farming community, Ashdown was initially known as Turkey Flats and later Keller before being renamed by Judge Lawrence Alexander Byrne. Following his Keller mill being "burned down to ashes", Byrne vowed to rebuild and found a town named Ashdown. It was incorporated on June 11, 1892 as Ashdown, and rapid growth began in 1895 following the railroad reaching town. The Arkansas and Choctaw Railroad connected Ashdown to Arkinda, and the growth of the Kansas City Southern Railway, the Frisco and the Memphis, Dallas and Gulf Railroad continued to grow the city and her timber industry, which had been utilizing steamboats and flatboats to ship lumber.
Following World War II, Ashdown's economy began to diversify. Its location near two rivers attracted manufacturing plants, such as Coca-Cola bottling plant, box factory, clothing plant, ice plant and a pallet plant. The United States Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Little River and Saline River at their confluence in 1966, forming Millwood Lake. The lake's recreational value attracted a Nekoosa Paper Company paper mill two years later, still in operation today after being purchased by Domtar. The Little River Memorial Hospital was also built during this period of rapid building and development.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (19 km2), with 7.1 square miles (18.4 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.56%) is water. Millwood Lake is located seven miles east of the town.
More Cities of Interest in Arkansas