How to Find a Truck Driving School near Pilot Point Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Pilot Point AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Pilot Point home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective 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 target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Pilot Point AK, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 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. Several 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Pilot Point AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Pilot Point AK area are accredited because of the stringent 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated 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 Pilot Point AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple 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 supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. 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 individual 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 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 skillfully takes time. The majority of Pilot Point AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Pilot Point AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Pilot Point AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Pilot Point AK school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Pilot Point AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Pilot Point 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pilot Point AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pilot Point Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pilot Point, Alaska
Pilot Point is located at 57°33′37″N 157°34′56″W / 57.56028°N 157.58222°W / 57.56028; -157.58222 (57.560226, -157.582267). Most of the community (village) is located on a high, ancient glacial moraine which abuts the eastern shore of Ugashik Bay six nautical miles upstream from Smoky Point and eighteen nautical miles (33 km) downstream from the village of Ugashik.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 140.5 square miles (364 km2), of which, 25.4 square miles (66 km2) of it is land and 115.1 square miles (298 km2) of it (81.93%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 100 people, 29 households, and 22 families residing in the city. The population density was 3.9 people per square mile (1.5/km²). There were 69 housing units at an average density of 2.7 per square mile (1.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 14.00% White and 86.00% Native American.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Pilot Point AK
Choosing the right truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving 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 no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Pilot Point AK.
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