How to Pick a Trucking School near Barling Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Barling AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Barling residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 balance 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 Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Arkansas and within the United States, an operator must attain 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 select a truck driving school near Barling AR, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions 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 more 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 CDL 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. 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Barling AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Barling AR trucking schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Barling AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Barling AR schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the Barling AR school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish ample 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Barling AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of Barling AR truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, ask if the Barling AR schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide 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 indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Barling AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new profession in Barling AR. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Barling AR.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a truck driver, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Barling AR
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn 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 obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Barling AR.
A Bit About Barling Arkansas
Barling is a city in Sebastian County, Arkansas, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 Census the population was 4,649. According to the 2005 US Census Bureau estimate, the population of Barling was 4,367, ranking it eighth in the Greater Fort Smith Area. Barling was incorporated in 1956.
Barling is located at 35°19′22″N 94°18′2″W / 35.32278°N 94.30056°W / 35.32278; -94.30056 (35.322728, -94.300663). It was named after Aaron Barling, a soldier originally posted to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory who subsequently farmed in Arkansas.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.1 square miles (57 km2), of which, 21.9 square miles (57 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.59%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,176 people, 1,599 households, and 1,122 families residing in the city. The population density was 190.4 people per square mile (73.5/km²). There were 1,697 housing units at an average density of 77.4 per square mile (29.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.05% White, 1.39% Black or African American, 1.87% Native American, 5.10% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.04% from other races, and 2.54% from two or more races. 3.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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