How to Pick a CDL Training School near Kalskag Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Kalskag AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Kalskag home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Kalskag AK, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 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. Some 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Kalskag AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Kalskag AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Kalskag AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Kalskag AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Kalskag AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Kalskag AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Kalskag AK school you select 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 willing to dedicate 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 Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage 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 not many Kalskag AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Kalskag 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Kalskag AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Kalskag Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Kalskag AK
Choosing the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Kalskag AK.
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