How to Find a CDL Driving School near Tok Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Tok AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Tok home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Tok AK, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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. 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 CDLs may 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, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Tok AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Tok AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue 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 typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Tok AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Tok AK schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Tok AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Tok AK schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Tok AK school you choose 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 instructor 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Tok AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Tok AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid 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 Tok AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tok Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Tok lies on a large, flat alluvial plain of the Tanana Valley between the Tanana River and the Alaska Range at an important junction of the Alaska Highway (Alaska Route 2) with the Glenn Highway (Alaska Route 1). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 132.3 square miles (343 km2), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,393 people, 534 households, and 372 families residing in the census designated place (CDP). The population density was 10.5 people per square mile (6.1/km²). There were 748 housing units at an average density of 5.7 per square mile (2.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 78.03% White, 0.14% Black or African American, 12.85% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.93% from other races, and 7.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.08% of the population.
There were 534 households out of which 39.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.3% were non-families. 24.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.12.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Tok AK
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Tok AK.
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