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How to Select the Right CDL Training School near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska tractor trailer carrying cargoCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Knik Fairview AK. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Knik Fairview residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll receive the right training. 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 purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover 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?

Knik Fairview Alaska truck traveling down road

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Knik Fairview AK and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 summaries of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.

How to Research a Truck Driver School

Knik Fairview Alaska concrete mixer truck with flag paint job

After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Knik Fairview AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Knik Fairview AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Knik Fairview AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning 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 regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alaska licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Effective 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 following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Knik Fairview AK schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Knik Fairview AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Knik Fairview AK schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Knik Fairview AK school you choose offers 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 willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask 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 not many Knik Fairview AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Knik Fairview 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.

Find Out More About Knik Fairview Truck Driving Classes

Enroll in the Right Knik Fairview CDL Training

Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession 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 offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Knik Fairview Alaska.

 

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