How to Choose a Trucking School near Chitina Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Chitina AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Chitina residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Chitina AK, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Chitina AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Chitina AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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 caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, 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 clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Chitina AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk 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 individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Chitina AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay 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 perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide lots 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Chitina AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Chitina AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Chitina AK school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Chitina AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Chitina AK area vocational or trade 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 submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Chitina AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Chitina Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
'Chitina (Ahtna Athabascan Tsedi Na' [tʃɛ.diː.näʔ] < tsedi "copper" + na "river") is a census-designated place (CDP) in Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 126, up from 123 in 2000.
Chitina is located on the west bank of the Copper River at its confluence with the Chitina River on the Edgerton Highway, and junction with the McCarthy Road. It is 85 km (53 mi) southeast of Copper Center and 106 km (66 mi) southeast of Glennallen. It is outside the western boundary of the Wrangell - St Elias National Park and Preserve.
In 1945, work had begun to convert the CR&NW railroad line, from Cordova to Kennicott, into a highway, but work halted with the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, leaving a significant gap between Chitina and the Million Dollar Bridge near Cordova. The rail route from Chitina to Kennicott is a roadway, the McCarthy Road.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Chitina AK
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Chitina AK.
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