How to Find the Best Truck Driver Classes near Kenai Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Kenai AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Kenai residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 rest 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 drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Kenai AK and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver 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 address 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 of the 2 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Kenai AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Kenai AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards 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 business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Kenai AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, 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 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Kenai AK schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. 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 ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, 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 between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Kenai AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment 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 rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Kenai AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Kenai AK school you choose provides 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 instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Kenai AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Kenai AK area technical or vocational 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 least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Kenai Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Kenai Alaska.