How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Homer Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Homer AK. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Homer residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Homer AK, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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 brief explanations for the 2 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Homer AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Homer AK area are accredited because of 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Homer AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker 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 experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Homer AK schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish ample 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Homer AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Homer AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? 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, ask 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 views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Homer AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Homer AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Homer AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Homer AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Homer Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Homer is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is 218 miles southwest of Anchorage. According to the 2010 Census, the population is 5,003, up from 3,946 in 2000. Long known as The "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." Homer is also nicknamed "the end of the road," and more recently, "the cosmic hamlet by the sea."
Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its distinguishing feature is the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5 mi (7.2 km)) long gravel bar that extends into the bay, on which is located the Homer Harbor.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.4 square miles (58 km2), of which 10.6 square miles (27 km2) is land and 11.9 square miles (31 km2) is water. The total area is 52.83% water.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Homer AK
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to consider 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Homer AK.
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