How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Kake Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Kake AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Kake home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Kake AK, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 greater 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Kake AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Kake AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Kake AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure 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 talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kake AK schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Kake 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 certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Kake AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd 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 convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Kake 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 devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Kake AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Kake AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing 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 Kake AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Kake Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Kake (/ˈkeɪk/, like 'cake') is a first-class city in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Alaska, United States. The population was 557 at the 2010 census. The name comes from the Tlingit word Ḵéix̱ (Northern Tlingit) or Ḵéex̱ (Southern Tlingit), which is derived from ḵée 'dawn, daylight' and x̱ʼé 'mouth', i.e. 'mouth of dawn' or 'opening of daylight'.
Kake is located at 56°58′15″N 133°56′2″W / 56.97083°N 133.93389°W / 56.97083; -133.93389 (56.970841, -133.933751). Kake is on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.2 square miles (37 km2), of which, 8.2 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 6.0 square miles (16 km2) of it (42.37%) is water.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Kake AK
Picking the right trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Kake AK.
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