How to Choose a CDL Training School near Nikiski Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Nikiski AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Nikiski home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Nikiski AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address 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). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Nikiski AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more things 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 Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Nikiski AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several 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 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Nikiski AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several 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 stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Nikiski AK schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Nikiski AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Nikiski AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Nikiski AK school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit 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 commitments.
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 start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Nikiski AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Nikiski AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Nikiski AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Nikiski Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 76.2 square miles (197 km2), of which, 69.6 square miles (180 km2) of it is land and 6.6 square miles (17 km2) of it (8.66%) is water.
Nikiski first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Tinneh villages of "Kultuk" (AKA Nikishka No. 3) and "Titukilsk and Nikishka." Kultuk had a population of 17, and Titukilsk and Nikishka had a population of 57, all of which were Tinneh Natives. There apparently were no census reports from 1880 until 1980, when the area was organized as "Nikishka" and made a census-designated place (CDP). The name was altered to Nikiski in 1990 and has reported as such on each successive census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,327 people, 1,514 households, and 1,130 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 62.2 people per square mile (24.0/km²). There were 1,766 housing units at an average density of 25.4/sq mi (9.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 87.15% White, 0.12% Black or African American, 7.56% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.51% Pacific Islander, 0.83% from other races, and 3.12% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Pick the Best CDL School Nikiski AK
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving 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 regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Nikiski AK.
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