How to Select the Right CDL Training Classes near Knik Fairview Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Knik Fairview AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting 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 final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Knik Fairview home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll get the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Knik Fairview AK and throughout the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 required 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. 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 drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Knik Fairview AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Knik Fairview 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 several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive 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 program is certified (the program, 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 indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Knik Fairview AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out 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 relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching 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 discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Knik Fairview AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 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 Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different 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 have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Knik Fairview AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Knik Fairview AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out 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 placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Knik Fairview AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Knik Fairview AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Knik Fairview CDL Training
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Knik Fairview Alaska.