How to Find a CDL Driving School near Eagle River Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Eagle River AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Eagle River home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Eagle River AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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. Several 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 specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Eagle River AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Eagle River AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Eagle River AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Eagle River AK schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, 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 completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Eagle River AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Eagle River AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Eagle River AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Eagle River AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Eagle River AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Eagle River AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Eagle River Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Eagle River, Anchorage
Eagle River is a community within the Municipality of Anchorage situated on the Eagle River for which it is named, between Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Chugach State Park in the Chugach Mountains. Its ZIP code is 99577. If Eagle River were not part of the Municipality of Anchorage, it would be classified as one of the five largest cities in Alaska.
The name Eagle River was first reported in 1939 by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Eagle River/Chugiak area was settled by homesteaders and prospered on agricultural activities. The Eagle River post office was established in 1961.
In spite of some local opposition, both Chugiak and Eagle River became annexed to the Municipality of Anchorage, when the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough were unified in 1975. Efforts to secede from the Municipality surfaced around 2000, but are no longer prominent as the community has seen an influx of individuals who have social and economic ties to Anchorage and the nearby Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson.
Choose the Best CDL School Eagle River AK
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many 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 operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Eagle River AK.
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