How to Choose a Trucking School near Hughes Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Hughes AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Hughes home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 USA and Hughes AK, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Hughes AK trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Hughes AK area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Hughes AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention 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 period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Hughes AK schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual 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 training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark 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 Hughes AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Hughes AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Hughes AK school you enroll in offers 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 prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Hughes AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Hughes AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Hughes AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Hughes Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 78 people, 26 households, and 17 families residing in the city. The population density was 25.2 people per square mile (9.7/km²). There were 39 housing units at an average density of 12.6 per square mile (4.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 10.26% White, 78.21% Native American, 10.26% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 10.26% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 26 households out of which 50.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.6% were married couples living together, 26.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.8% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.67.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 39.7% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females, there were 110.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 123.8 males.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driving School Hughes AK
Choosing the right 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider 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 trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Hughes AK.
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