How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Petersburg Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Petersburg AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Petersburg home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Petersburg AK, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply 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 distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. Several 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Petersburg AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Petersburg AK area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Petersburg AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following 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 personalized instruction 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 professes it can train 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 requires time. The majority of Petersburg AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Petersburg AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Petersburg AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Petersburg AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Petersburg AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Petersburg AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Petersburg AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Petersburg Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Petersburg (Tlingit: Gantiyaakw Séedi "Steamboat Channel") is a census-designated place (CDP) in Petersburg Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 2,948 at the 2010 census, down from 3,224 in 2000.
The borough encompasses Petersburg and Kupreanof, plus mostly uninhabited areas stretching to the Canadian–American border and the southern boundary of the City and Borough of Juneau. While the city of Petersburg ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity (the borough assembly created a service area to assume operation of the former city's services), the tiny city of Kupreanof remains separate within the borough.
Tlingits from Kupreanof Island had long used a summer fish camp at the north end of Mitkof Island. Earlier cultures of indigenous people also used the island: remnants of fish traps and some petroglyphs have been carbon-dated back some 1,000 years.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Petersburg AK
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Petersburg AK.
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