How to Find a Trucking School Fairbanks Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Fairbanks AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Fairbanks home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Fairbanks AK, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person 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 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 required to operate 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. Some 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 drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Fairbanks AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Fairbanks AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving 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 best of Fairbanks AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Fairbanks 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 Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 driving a truck. Even though 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 become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Fairbanks AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly 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 be sure to find out if the Fairbanks AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering 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 also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Fairbanks AK school you choose offers 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 working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Fairbanks AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Fairbanks 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Fairbanks AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fairbanks Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fairbanks is the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska. 2016 estimates put the population of the city proper at 32,751, and the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough at 100,605, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Alaska (after Anchorage). The Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses all of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is the northernmost Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, located 196 driving miles (or 140 air miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the founding campus of the University of Alaska system.
Though there was never a permanent Alaska Native settlement at the site of Fairbanks, Athabascan peoples have used the area for thousands of years. An archaeological site excavated on the grounds of the University of Alaska Fairbanks uncovered a Native camp about 3,500 years old. From evidence gathered at the site, archaeologists surmise that Native activities in the area were limited to seasonal hunting and fishing. In addition, archeological sites on the grounds of nearby Fort Wainwright date back 10,000 years. Arrowheads excavated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks site matched similar items found in Asia, providing some of the first evidence that humans arrived in North America via the land bridge.
Captain E. T. Barnette founded Fairbanks in August 1901 while headed to Tanacross (or Tanana Crossing, where the Valdez–Eagle trail crossed the Tanana River), where he intended to set up a trading post. The steamboat on which Barnette was a passenger, the Lavelle Young, ran aground while attempting to negotiate shallow water. Barnette, along with his party and supplies, were deposited along the banks of the Chena River 7 miles (11 km) upstream from its confluence with the Tanana River. The sight of smoke from the steamer's engines caught the attention of gold prospectors working in the hills to the north, most notably an Italian immigrant named Felice Pedroni (better known as Felix Pedro) and his partner Tom Gilmore. The two met Barnette where he disembarked and convinced him of the potential of the area. Barnette set up his trading post at the site, still intending to eventually make it to Tanacross. Teams of gold prospectors soon congregated in and around the newly founded Fairbanks; they built drift mines, dredges, and lode mines in addition to panning and sluicing.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Fairbanks AK
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fairbanks AK.
Other Awesome Locations in Alaska
Bing: Alaska CDL Schools Search results
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Commercial Driver License (CDL) Requirement Alaska is actively complying with a Federal law that requires commercial drivers to prove they are a lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. Citizen. This only effects your Commercial Driver License or Permit.
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