How to Pick a CDL Training School near Nondalton Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Nondalton AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Nondalton residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Nondalton AK, an operator must attain 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the two 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Nondalton AK trucking 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 factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Nondalton AK area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Nondalton AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, 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 segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Nondalton AK schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide lots 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Nondalton AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Nondalton AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Nondalton AK school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Nondalton AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Nondalton AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. 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 need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Nondalton AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Nondalton Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Nondalton (Dena'ina: Nuvendaltun) is a city on the west shore of Six Mile Lake in the Lake and Peninsula Borough, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 164, down from 221 in 2000.
Nondalton first appeared on the 1920 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. This was the original Nondalton village, approximately 2 miles north of the present village. The original site became Old Nondalton. Residents relocated in 1940 to the present location of Nondalton. It formally incorporated in 1971.
As of the census of 2000, there were 221 people, 68 households, and 49 families residing in the city. The population density was 26.4 people per square mile (10.2/km²). There were 120 housing units at an average density of 14.4 per square mile (5.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 9.50% White, 89.14% Native American, 0.45% Pacific Islander, and 0.90% from two or more races. 0.45% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Nondalton AK
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Nondalton AK.
More Trucking Locations in Alaska