How to Find the Right Trucking Classes near Badger Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Badger AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Badger home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select 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 ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Badger AK and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Badger AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Badger AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Badger AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 claims 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 Badger AK schools provide training courses 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 important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Badger AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Badger AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Badger AK school you select 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 instructor 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate 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 poor job placement rate or not many Badger AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Badger AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Badger CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Badger Alaska.