How to Choose a CDL Driving School near El Dorado Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near El Dorado AR. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your El Dorado residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Arkansas and within the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one 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 El Dorado AR, we will discuss 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 2 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. 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 required to operate 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. Several 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the El Dorado AR trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few El Dorado AR truck driving schools are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top El Dorado AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with 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 should 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 higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most El Dorado AR schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the El Dorado AR school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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. Even though 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 she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the El Dorado AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some El Dorado AR truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the El Dorado AR schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the El Dorado AR school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career in El Dorado AR. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed in El Dorado AR.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School El Dorado AR
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in El Dorado AR.
A Bit About El Dorado Arkansas
El Dorado, Arkansas
El Dorado is a city in and the county seat of Union County, Arkansas, USA. According to estimates, the 2012 census, the population of the city is 18,491.
El Dorado is headquarters of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission as well as Murphy Oil, Murphy USA, Deltic Timber Corporation, and the Lion Oil Refinery. The city contains a community college, South Arkansas Community College ("SouthArk"), a multi-cultural arts center: South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC). El Dorado is the population, cultural, and business center of the regional area. The city is best known as being the heart of the 1920s oil boom in southern Arkansas. Its nickname is "Arkansas’s Original Boomtown". El Dorado is located about 100 miles (160 km) from the state capital of Little Rock.
El Dorado is located at 33°12′49″N 92°39′45″W / 33.21361°N 92.66250°W / 33.21361; -92.66250 (33.213521, -92.662553). in Union County, Arkansas in the southern part of the state. Union County is the largest county in the state of Arkansas and borders the state of Louisiana. The area has the unique feature of sharing its border with eight counties and parishes: Ouachita; Calhoun; Bradley; Columbia; Ashley; Claiborne Parish; Union Parish; and Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. El Dorado is the largest urban population center in its region.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.3 square miles (42 km2), of which 16.3 square miles (42 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.31%) is water.
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