How to Select the Best CDL Driving School near Knik Fairview Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Knik Fairview AK. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever 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 several variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Knik Fairview home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Knik Fairview AK and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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. 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Knik Fairview AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Knik Fairview AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Knik Fairview AK schools had to begin 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Knik Fairview AK schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Knik Fairview AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific 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 many different 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 work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make 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 Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Knik Fairview AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Knik Fairview AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Knik Fairview AK area technical or vocational 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Knik Fairview CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance 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. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm 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 soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Knik Fairview Alaska.