How to Select the Right CDL Training School near Chena Ridge Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Chena Ridge AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Chena Ridge residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Chena Ridge AK and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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. Some 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 types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Chena Ridge AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Chena Ridge AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense 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 a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly 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 best of Chena Ridge AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Chena Ridge AK schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Chena Ridge AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Chena Ridge AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Chena Ridge AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask 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 lower job placement rate or not many Chena Ridge AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Chena Ridge AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Chena Ridge Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Chena Ridge Alaska.