How to Select a Trucking School near Seldovia Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Seldovia AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Seldovia residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Seldovia AK, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 greater 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 operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Seldovia AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized 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 equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Seldovia AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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 an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Seldovia AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Seldovia AK schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good 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 several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though 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. Check with the Seldovia AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Seldovia AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Seldovia AK school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Seldovia AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Seldovia AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Seldovia AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Seldovia Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Seldovia (Alutiiq: Angagkitaqnuuq) is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, United States. Its population was 255 at the 2010 census, down from 286 in 2000. It is located along Kachemak Bay southwest of Homer. There is no road system connecting the town to other communities, so all travel to Seldovia is by airplane or boat.
The native residents are mixed Dena'ina Athabaskan Indian and Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) Eskimo. In 1787 or 1788 a Russian fur trade post named Aleksandrovskaia was established at today's Seldovia by hunting parties under Evstratii Ivanovich Delarov, of the Shelikhov-Golikov company, precursor of the Russian-American Company. Although there has been little definitive archeological evidence of human habitation at Seldovia prior to the 1800s, it is said[by whom?] the early Russian St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, started in 1820, was built on top of an older aboriginal Inuit village site. The town's original Russian name, Seldevoy, translates to "Herring Bay", as there was a significant herring population prior to rampant overfishing early in the 20th century.
Until the development of a more complete road system in Alaska, Seldovia was an important "first stop" for ships sailing from Seward, Kodiak and other points outside Cook Inlet. At one time Seldovia was home to over 2,000 residents, but today fewer than 300 persons reside year round.
Choose the Best CDL School Seldovia AK
Selecting the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider 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 company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Seldovia AK.
More Trucking Locations in Alaska