How to Select a CDL Training School near Bigelow Arkansas
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Bigelow AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps 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 important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Bigelow residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Arkansas and within the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Bigelow AR, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Bigelow AR trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Bigelow AR trucking schools are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Bigelow AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Bigelow AR schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Bigelow AR school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bigelow AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain Bigelow AR trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the Bigelow AR schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Bigelow AR school you select provides 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in Bigelow AR. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Bigelow AR.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Truck Driver?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a truck driver, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Select the Right Trucking School Bigelow AR
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want 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 choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bigelow AR.
A Bit About Bigelow Arkansas
Bigelow is a town in Perry County, Arkansas, United States. Located in Central Arkansas near the confluence of the Fourche La Fave River and Arkansas River, the community was incorporated in 1905 as Esau. Based largely on the timber industry, the town grew until the lumber mills were closed in 1920. The population was 329 at the 2000 census.
Bigelow didn't exist by its current name until 1911. It used to be called "Esau"—a community a few miles southwest of the present Toadsuck Ferry Bridge that grew to touch the edge of the small town of Fourche. In 1911, Fourche River Mill owner, N.P. Bigelow, built an elaborate white house of the best lumber on a hill above the town. He was elected mayor, and then gained permission from the state's General Assembly to change the name of Esau to Bigelow. It was at one time the biggest town in the county; a vote was taken to move the county seat from Perryville to Bigelow, Bigelow won the vote, but the move was never made.
Bigelow is located at 34°59′57″N 92°37′52″W / 34.99917°N 92.63111°W / 34.99917; -92.63111 (34.999061, -92.631203).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2), all land.
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