How to Select a CDL Driving School near Little Rock Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Little Rock AR. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Little Rock home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Arkansas and within the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 choose a truck driver school near Little Rock AR, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Little Rock AR truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Little Rock AR truck driver schools are accredited because of the demanding 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Little Rock AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters 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 researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ 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 higher, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Little Rock AR schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the Little Rock AR school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good 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 Little Rock AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of Little Rock AR truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain 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.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the Little Rock AR schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Little Rock AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career in Little Rock AR. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out 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 must be submitted in Little Rock AR.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving applicants is "What made you decide on trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some strategies about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Little Rock AR
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Little Rock AR.
A Bit About Little Rock Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831, on the south bank of the Arkansas River close to the state's geographic center. The city derives its name from a rock formation along the river, named "la petite roche" by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in the 1720s. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock from Arkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 193,524 at the 2010 census. The six county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 75th in terms of population in the United States with 724,385 residents according to the 2013 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.
Little Rock is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center within Arkansas and the South. Several cultural institutions are in Little Rock, such as the Arkansas Arts Center, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the hiking, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities. Little Rock's history is available through history museums, historic districts or neighborhoods like the Quapaw Quarter, and historic sites such as Little Rock Central High School. The city is the headquarters of Dillard's, Windstream Communications, Acxiom, Stephens Inc., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Heifer International, the Clinton Foundation, and the Rose Law Firm. Other large corporations, such as Dassault Falcon Jet and LM Wind Power have large operations in the city. State government is a large employer, with many offices being in downtown Little Rock. Two Interstate highways, Interstate 30 and Interstate 40, meet in Little Rock, with the Port of Little Rock serving as a shipping hub.
Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called "le petit rocher" (French: "the little rock"). The "little rock" was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing. The "little rock" is across the river from "big rock," a large bluff at the edge of the river, which was once used as a rock quarry.
Archeological artifacts provide evidence of Native Americans inhabiting Central Arkansas for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The early inhabitants may have been the Folsom people, Bluff Dwellers, and Mississippian culture peoples who built earthwork mounds recorded in 1541 by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Historical tribes of the area were the Caddo, Quapaw, Osage, Choctaw, and Cherokee.
More Cities of Interest in Arkansas