How to Select a Trucking School near Clarendon Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Clarendon AR. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Clarendon home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest 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 Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Arkansas and within the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Clarendon AR, we will focus on Class A and 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). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 need endorsements to operate certain types 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 qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Clarendon AR trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Clarendon AR truck driving schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Clarendon 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 regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following 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 obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Clarendon AR schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the Clarendon AR school and speak with the instructors in person. 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard 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 Clarendon AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of Clarendon AR truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, ask if the Clarendon AR schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Clarendon AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career in Clarendon AR. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted in Clarendon AR.
Why Did You Want to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a trucking operator, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must ready several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying 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 best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Right Trucking School Clarendon AR
Choosing the right trucking school is an important first step to launching your new vocation 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want 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 choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Clarendon AR.
A Bit About Clarendon Arkansas
Clarendon is a city in and county seat of Monroe County, Arkansas. Located in the Arkansas Delta, the city's position on the White River at the mouth of the Cache River has defined the community since first incorporating in 1859. Although the river has brought devastation and disaster to the city infrequently throughout history, it has also provided economic opportunities, transportation, recreation and tourism to the city.
Once home to a variety of industries, today Clarendon's economy is largely based on agriculture. Similar to many Delta communities, the city's population has been dwindling since mechanization on the farm reduced the number of agricultural-related jobs in the area. At the 2010 Census, the population was 1,664, the lowest value recorded since 1890.
The area around Clarendon was originally populated by various Native American groups. By 1799, French hunters and trappers had built cabins at the mouth of the Cache River. It was the point where The Military Road from Memphis, Tennessee to Little Rock crossed the White River. The Military Road was begun in 1826 and completed in 1828. By that date, a ferry crossing and post office had been established in Clarendon, and the town served as the terminus for a stagecoach line to the west. The Military Road was used as the route for some groups of Native Americans being relocated from eastern states to Oklahoma during the forced relocations commonly known as the Trail of Tears; Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee groups are known to have traveled along it. A railroad bridge across the White River was constructed in 1883 by the Texas and St. Louis Railway; the ferry operated until 1931 when it was replaced by a highway bridge.
The city of Clarendon was officially incorporated in 1859. In 1864, the city was burned to the ground by Union forces in retaliation for the sinking of the tinclad Union gunboat USS Queen City by forces under the command of Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby. The town's charter was dissolved in 1884, and it was reincorporated in 1898.
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