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How to Select the Best CDL Training Classes near Badger Alaska

Badger Alaska tractor trailer carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Badger AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Badger home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Should You Get?

Badger Alaska truck traveling down road

In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Badger AK and throughout the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, 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 brief explanations of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 drive 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. 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Assess a Trucking School

Badger Alaska cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Badger AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Badger AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Badger AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss 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 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Badger AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement 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 among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Badger AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Badger AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important 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 teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Badger AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.

Learn More About Badger CDL Training Schools

Enroll in the Best Badger Truck Driver Training

Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available 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 manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Badger Alaska.

 

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