How to Select a Truck Driver School near Prairie Grove Arkansas
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Prairie Grove AR. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Prairie Grove home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 CDL Should You Get?
To drive 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 a driver can qualify 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 Prairie Grove AR, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the two 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. A few of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Prairie Grove AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Prairie Grove AR trucking schools are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly 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 Prairie Grove AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. 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 be a bad idea to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Prairie Grove AR schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the Prairie Grove AR school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Prairie Grove 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 some Prairie Grove AR truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, find out if the Prairie Grove AR schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Prairie Grove AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For 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 working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Prairie Grove AR. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Prairie Grove AR.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What made you pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a truck driver, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize a number of ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Prairie Grove AR
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Prairie Grove AR.
A Bit About Prairie Grove Arkansas
Prairie Grove, Arkansas
Prairie Grove is a city in Washington County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 4,380 at the 2010 Census. It is part of the Northwest Arkansas region, and home to Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. The park spans a large amount of land and contains a visitor center, museum, several monuments, a driving tour and a collection of period buildings and homes you can tour.
Prairie Grove was the site of the Battle of Prairie Grove during the American Civil War. Confederate forces under General Thomas C. Hindman attempted to prevent the juncture of two Federal forces under Generals James G. Blunt and Francis J. Herron. The result of the battle was a tactical stalemate which assured permanent Union control of northwest Arkansas. The battlefield is now a State Military Park. During Labor Day weekend in the fall, the park hosts the Clothesline Fair which is a typical southern style hometown celebration. Crafts vendors and artists from all over the nation descend on this southern town to display and sell their talents and wares.
The Natural Resources Defense Council released an issue paper stating between that 1997 and 2001, Prairie Grove was the center of a cluster of testicular cancer cases. No clear cause has been identified but the NRDC notes the town is near a closed nuclear reactor and a low-level radioactive landfill. Arsenic from industrialized chicken manure is another possible source. In 2004, residents sued one of the poultry farms and the poultry feed manufacturer for spreading contaminated manure throughout Prairie Grove. The lawsuit did not assign blame and the cause of the cancer cluster has never been definitively determined.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2), all of it land.
More Cities of Interest in Arkansas