How to Choose a CDL Training School near Cantwell Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Cantwell AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what 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 certain variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Cantwell home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Cantwell AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Cantwell AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Cantwell AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Cantwell AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. 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 obtaining the personalized attention 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 teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Cantwell AK schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal 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 find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Cantwell AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Cantwell AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. 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 from other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Cantwell AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Cantwell AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Cantwell 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Cantwell AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Cantwell Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Cantwell is named after Lieutenant J. C. Cantwell, military explorer and commander of the revenue steamer Corwin on the Yukon River, 1898-1900. Prior to the settlement, the only inhabitants of the Cantwell area were nomadic Tanana Indians and Athabascan Native Alaskans who hunted and fished. In their language they named Cantwell Yede'teni'na. The town began as a flag stop on the Alaska Railroad. This flagstop supplied the Valdez Creek mining area, which had the name "Denali" for the Valdez Creek community. Many Indians from the village of Tyone came to work at Valdez Creek and later lived out their lives in the Cantwell area. Many Tyones are buried in the old Cantwell graveyard, next to the railroad tracks. Oley Nicklie, a Native Alaskan, sought work with the railroad after fur prices dropped. He and his two brothers then founded part of the settlement. Cantwell is 20 miles away from a giant abandoned igloo shaped hotel, which is not made out of ice.
Cantwell is located in the southern part of Denali Borough at 63°23′17″N 148°54′1″W / 63.38806°N 148.90028°W / 63.38806; -148.90028 (63.388000, -148.900204). It is situated at the north end of Broad Pass, along Cantwell Creek and the Jack River, tributaries of the north-flowing Nenana River. Alaska Route 3, the George Parks Highway, passes through Cantwell: Anchorage is 212 miles (341 km) to the south, and Fairbanks is 150 miles (240 km) to the north.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Cantwell CDP has a total area of 117.6 square miles (304.7 km2), of which 117.3 square miles (303.8 km2) is land and 0.35 square miles (0.9 km2), or 0.29%, is water.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Cantwell AK
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cantwell AK.
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