How to Choose a Truck Driver School Galena Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Galena AK. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay 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 assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Galena residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Galena AK, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on 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 explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Galena AK trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Galena AK area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Galena AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Galena AK schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Galena AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Galena AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Galena AK school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Galena AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Galena AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. 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 submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Galena AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Galena Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Galena (/ɡəˈliːnə/) (Notaalee Denh in Koyukon) is a city in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2010 census the population was 470, with a 2016 estimate of 488 inhabitants. Galena was established in 1918, and a military airfield was built adjacent to the city during World War II. The city was incorporated in 1971.
The Koyukon Athabascans had seasonal camps in the area and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families floated on rafts to the Yukon River to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River. Galena was established in 1918 near an Athabascan fish camp called Henry's Point. It became a supply and point for nearby lead ore mines that opened in 1918 and 1919.
In 1941 and 1942, during World War II, a military air field was built adjacent to the civilian airport, and the two facilities shared the runway and flight line facilities. This air field was designated Galena Air Force Station shortly after the split of the United States Air Force from the United States Army, which occurred as a result of the National Security Act of 1947. During the 1950s, the construction of additional military facilities at Galena and the nearby Campion Air Force Station, in support of Galena's mission as a forward operating base under the auspices of the 5072nd Air Base Group, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage, provided improvements to the airport and the local infrastructure, causing economic growth for the area.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Galena AK
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Galena AK.
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