How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Sand Point Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Sand Point AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Sand Point home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills 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 choose 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Sand Point AK, an operator needs to 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driving 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Sand Point AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Sand Point AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Sand Point AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Sand Point AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best 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 satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between 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. Contact the Sand Point AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Sand Point AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third 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 looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Sand Point AK school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 few Sand Point AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Sand Point AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Sand Point AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Sand Point Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Sand Point, Alaska
Sand Point, also known as Qagun Tayagungin, is a city in Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 976, up from 952 in 2000. It is on northwestern Popof Island, one of the Shumagin Islands, off the Alaska Peninsula. It is the borough seat of Aleutians East Borough, and is near the entrance to the Bering Sea.
The Aleutians East Borough School District is in Southwestern Alaska along the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Chain The District was formed in 1988 from smaller districts that consolidated and formed a Borough with taxing authority. The Borough and District boundaries are the same, and stretch over approximately 15,000 square miles (39,000 km2) of roadless, mostly treeless tundra, from the middle of the Alaska Peninsula to the north and east, going southwest out to Akutan just east of Dutch Harbor.
Sand Point was founded by a San Francisco fishing company in 1898 as a cod fishing station and trading post. Aleuts and Scandinavians were among the early residents. Gold mining was briefly a part of the economy during the early 1900s. Fishing remains an important industry, as Sand Point is home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the Aleutian Chain.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Sand Point AK
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL 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 choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Sand Point AK.
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