How to Choose the Right Trucking Classes near Fishhook Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Fishhook AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Fishhook residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable 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? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Fishhook AK and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 needed to drive 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Fishhook AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Fishhook AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver 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 Fishhook AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Fishhook AK schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish plenty of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fishhook AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive 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 maintaining associations with numerous 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Fishhook AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other 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 earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Fishhook AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure 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, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Fishhook AK employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Fishhook AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Fishhook CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape 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 get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company 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 in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Fishhook Alaska.