How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Iliamna Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Iliamna AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Iliamna home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Iliamna AK, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 greater 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Iliamna AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Iliamna AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Iliamna AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss 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 higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Iliamna AK schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Iliamna AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Iliamna AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Iliamna AK school you choose provides 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 are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Iliamna AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Iliamna AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance 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 Iliamna AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Iliamna Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Iliamna was originally the name of an Athabaskan village at the point where the Iliamna River flows into Iliamna Lake, about 40 miles (64 km) from present-day Iliamna. That site is now called "Old Iliamna." In 1935, the residents of Old Iliamna moved to the present-day location.
The first sport fishing lodge in Iliamna was built in the 1930s and the second was built in the 1950s. Many more were built in the later 1900s. Iliamna's economy has two main elements: subsistence fishing and hunting and sport fishing lodges. Year-round residents largely pursue subsistence activities while summer workers from other areas work in the lodges.
Around 1913, Herman Gartelmann, Jack Kinney, and Ed Ahola built a Roadhouse here, taking advantage of air travel through Lake Clark Pass. Jack and Ed were from Old Iliamna village. Frederick Roehl purchased the roadhouse around 1917, and when he died in 1923, Hans Seversen took over and the facility became known as Seversen's Roadhouse. He started hosting big game hunters in 1921 and the first sport fishermen in 1937. Martin Seversen ran the operation from 1946 and put up a new building. Mary Seversen Clark sold the operation in 1956.
Pick the Right Trucking School Iliamna AK
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 America move as a professional truck driver in Iliamna AK.
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