How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Tanana Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Tanana AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain 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 think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Tanana residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn 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 choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Tanana AK, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 CDL is required 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Tanana AK trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Tanana AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Tanana AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional 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 hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal 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 teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Tanana AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. 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 provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tanana AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Tanana AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? 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, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Tanana 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering 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 firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Tanana AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Tanana AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Tanana AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tanana Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Tanana /ˈtænənɑː/ (Hohudodetlaatl Denh in Koyukon) is a city in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2010 census the population was 246, down from 308 in 2000. It was formerly known as Clachotin, adopted by Canadian French.
Jules Jetté (1864–1927), a Jesuit missionary who worked in the area and documented the language, recorded the Koyukon Athabascan name for the village as Hohudodetlaatl Denh, literally, ‘where the area has been chopped’. Several residents are chronicled in the 2012 Discovery Channel TV series Yukon Men. Almost 80% of the town's population are Native Americans, traditionally Koyukon (Denaakk'e) speakers of the large Athabaskan (Dené) language family. 
Prior to arrival of non-indigenous explorers and traders in early 1860, the point of land at the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon Rivers (Nuchalawoyyet, spelled differently in historic accounts) was a traditional meeting and trading place used by members of several indigenous groups. There were as many as five different Athabascan languages spoken in the area in 1868 when the French-Canadian François Xavier Mercier established the first (fur) trading post in the area. Noukelakayet Station, later known as Fort Adams, was located about 15 miles downstream from the mouth of the Tanana River on the north bank of the Yukon.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Tanana AK
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into 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 truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Tanana AK.
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