How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Sutton Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sutton AK. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Sutton residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Sutton AK, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify 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 discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is needed to drive 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. A few 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Sutton AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Sutton AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 top Sutton AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers 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 higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Sutton AK schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Sutton AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different 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 have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Sutton AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some 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 considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Sutton AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Sutton AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Sutton 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Sutton AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Sutton Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Sutton is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census the population was 1,447, up from 1,080 in 2000. The CDP includes the former coal mining community and road construction camp of Sutton, as well as the former mining camps of Eska and Jonesville.
Sutton is located at 61°42′45″N 148°53′8″W / 61.71250°N 148.88556°W / 61.71250; -148.88556 (61.712473, -148.885625), 52–72 miles (84–116 km) northeast of Anchorage along the Glenn Highway.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 151.6 square miles (392.7 km²), of which, 151.3 square miles (391.8 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.9 km²) of it (0.23%) is water.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Sutton AK
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 proper 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Sutton AK.
More Trucking Locations in Alaska