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How to Select the Best CDL Training School near Badger Alaska

Badger Alaska truck hauling cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Badger AK. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Badger residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Badger Alaska tractor trailer traveling down highway

To drive commercial vehicles legally within Badger AK and throughout the United States, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Research a Truck Driving School

Badger Alaska cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Badger AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Badger AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving 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. Having said that, even the best of Badger AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent 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 Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most 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 Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Badger AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Badger AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Badger AK school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Badger AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Badger AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Badger Truck Driving Training Schools

Enroll in the Best Badger CDL Training

Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might 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 select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Badger Alaska.

 

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