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How to Find the Right CDL Driving Classes near Chena Ridge Alaska

Chena Ridge Alaska tractor trailer carrying payloadCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Chena Ridge AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Chena Ridge residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal means to ensure you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams 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 balance 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?

Chena Ridge Alaska truck driving down road

To drive commercial vehicles legally within Chena Ridge AK and throughout the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school 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 Assess a Truck Driving School

Chena Ridge Alaska concrete truck with flag paint job

After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Chena Ridge AK trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Chena Ridge AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Chena Ridge AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Chena Ridge AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Chena Ridge AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver 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 affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Chena Ridge AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Chena Ridge AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Chena Ridge AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Chena Ridge AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Chena Ridge Truck Driver Schools

Enroll in the Best Chena Ridge CDL Training

Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Chena Ridge Alaska.

 

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