How to Select a CDL Training School near Skwentna Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Skwentna AK. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Skwentna home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Skwentna AK, a driver 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight 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). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 required to drive 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. Some 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Skwentna AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example 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 particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Skwentna AK area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Skwentna AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining 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 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 takes time. The majority of Skwentna AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important 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 requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty of 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 essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Skwentna AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Skwentna AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed 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 competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Skwentna 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 instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Skwentna AK employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Skwentna AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Skwentna AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Skwentna Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Skwentna is a census-designated place (CDP) on Iditarod Trail in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Anchorage, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census the population was 37, down from 111 in 2000.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 449.7 square miles (1,165 km2), of which, 442.8 square miles (1,147 km2) of it is land and 6.9 square miles (18 km2) of it (1.54%) is water.
As with much of South Central Alaska, Skwentna has a dry-summer subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification: Dsc), with long, cold, snowy winters and short, warm summers, although, as is more typical of the Alaska Interior, August averages cooler than June; the town is also located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3, indicating the coldest temperature of the year is typically in the −40 to −30 °F (−40 to −34 °C). In summer, temperatures reach 70 °F (21 °C) on 39 days and 80 °F (27 °C) on 4.6, with an average of 18 nights remaining above 50 °F (10 °C). August through October is the wettest period of the year, while snow typically falls from October to April (rarely May or September), accumulating 119 inches (3.02 m).
Choose the Best Trucking School Skwentna AK
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Skwentna AK.
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