Northwest Technical Institute (NWTI) in Springdale will launch a new commercial driver’s license (CDL) training program and phase out the existing one by this fall.
Since 2015, Mid-America Truck Driving School has operated the program on campus. Dr. Jim Rollins, president of Northwest Technical Institute, said it will no longer operate at NWTI by Sept. 15.
“The truck driving industry is one of the most robust in our region, and NWTI is excited to offer potential CDL drivers the finest training program available,” Rollins said.
Industry and education are working together to build the new program, according to a news release. Training is expected to start this fall, and student registration is underway for the fall semester.
“[The program] is positioning itself to work very closely with regional industry leaders to address driver preparation in this expanding field,” Rollins said. “NWTI is now prepared to offer its own CDL program and broaden its service to prepare drivers on a larger scale.”
The plan is to graduate 200 or more drivers annually, Rollins said. NWTI graduates will be “job ready,” the release shows. Training will include an online component, CDL simulation and in-person driver training.
“We’re excited to get started with this essential training that keeps multiple facets of our economy running,” said Michael Dewberry, director of apprenticeships and workforce training at NWTI. “It not only provides crucial employment opportunities for drivers but also positively impacts the safety of our roads for all who travel them.”
NWTI has assigned to the program one full-time and one part-time position, and multiple part-time positions will become available as demand increases, Dewberry said. Program cost is $500 for online theory instruction for CDL permit and $3,500 for range and public road training. The test preparation portion of the program can be completed online, is self-paced and covers 35 topics. The driving portion will be completed in person over four weeks and covers 19 topics.
CDL testing will be conducted at Arkansas State Police Headquarters, Troop L, in Lowell.
Existing federal law doesn’t require truck drivers to complete a training program before taking the CDL test. However, starting Feb. 7, 2022, all new CDL drivers must complete a program before taking the test, Dewberry said.