How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Eagle River Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Eagle River AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Eagle River residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make certain you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Eagle River AK and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 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 needed to operate 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Eagle River AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Eagle River AK area are accredited due to 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 caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. 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 top Eagle River 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 pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Eagle River AK schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind 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 criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Eagle River AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Eagle River AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Eagle River AK school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Eagle River AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Eagle River 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Eagle River Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn 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 to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Eagle River Alaska.