How to Select a Truck Driver School near Port Heiden Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Port Heiden AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Port Heiden home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Port Heiden AK, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Port Heiden AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Port Heiden AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Port Heiden AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Port Heiden AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish ample 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Port Heiden AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Port Heiden AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Port Heiden AK school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Port Heiden AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Port Heiden AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Port Heiden AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Port Heiden Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Port Heiden, Alaska
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 51.4 square miles (133 km2), of which, 50.7 square miles (131 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (1.28%) is water.
Port Heiden first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Aleut village of "Mashikh." Some maps erroneously placed it at the latter settlement of Port Moller instead of at Port Heiden. In 1890, it returned as "Meshik." It next reported in 1920 as Port Heiden, and again in 1930. It did not appear again until 1960, but has appeared in every subsequent census. It formally incorporated in 1972.
As of the census of 2000, there were 119 people, 41 households, and 23 families residing in the city. The population density was 2.3 people per square mile (0.9/km²). There were 56 housing units at an average density of 1.1 per square mile (0.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 19.33% White, 65.55% Native American, 2.52% from other races, and 12.61% from two or more races. 2.52% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School Port Heiden AK
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Port Heiden AK.
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