How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Dillingham Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Dillingham AK. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Dillingham home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Dillingham AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 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 more 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 CDL is needed 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. A few 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Dillingham AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance 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 performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Dillingham AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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 certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Dillingham AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, 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 personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Dillingham AK schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach 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 ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training 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 no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Dillingham AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Dillingham AK schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 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 competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Dillingham AK school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Dillingham AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Dillingham 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Dillingham AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Dillingham Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Dillingham /ˈdɪlɪŋhæm/ (Curyuk in Central Alaskan Yup'ik), also known as Curyung and (for the southwestern section) Kanakanak, is a city in Dillingham Census Area, Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 2,329, down from 2,466 in 2000.
Dillingham is on Nushagak Bay at the mouth of the Nushagak River, an inlet of Bristol Bay, an arm of the Bering Sea in the North Pacific, in southwestern Alaska. It is located at 59°02′48″N 158°30′31″W / 59.04667°N 158.50861°W / 59.04667; -158.50861 (59.046751, -158.508665).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.3 square miles (94.1 km2). 33.6 square miles (86.9 km2) of it is land, and 2.8 square miles (7.2 km2) of it (7.64%) is water. This may change as the City of Dillingham will likely petition the State of Alaska to increase the size of its boundaries to include most of Nushagak Bay and Wood River, to gain revenue from the Nushagak District and Wood River Special Harvest Area commercial salmon fisheries.
Pick the Best Trucking School Dillingham AK
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an essential 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose 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 regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Dillingham AK.
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