How to Select a CDL Training School near Unalakleet Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Unalakleet AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Unalakleet residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Unalakleet AK, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Unalakleet AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized 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 equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Unalakleet AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested 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 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Unalakleet AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing department 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 employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss 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 higher, then students will not be receiving 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 comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Unalakleet AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might 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 face to face. You can also speak with some 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? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Unalakleet AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work 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 only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Unalakleet AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Unalakleet AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Unalakleet AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Unalakleet AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Unalakleet AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Unalakleet Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Unalakleet (/ˈjuːnələkliːt/ YOO-nə-lə-kleet; Inupiaq: Uŋalaqłiq IPA: [uŋɐlɑχɬeq]) is a city in Nome Census Area, Alaska, United States, in the western part of the state. At the 2010 census the population was 688, down from 747 in 2000. Unalakleet is known in the region and around Alaska for its salmon and king crab harvests; the residents rely heavily on caribou, ptarmigan, oogruk (bearded seal), and various salmon species. Unalakleet is also known for its aesthetic value, as it resides right next to the Bering Sea, immediately next to a large, clean river (Unalakleet River) and has trees, tundra, and hills behind it.
Unalakleet, an adaptation of the Iñupiaq word "Una-la-thliq", which means "from the southern side". Some Unalakleet residents were mistakenly told it meant "where the east wind blows".
Unalakleet is located at the Norton Sound end of the Unalakleet-Kaltag Portage, an important winter travel route between Norton Sound and the Yukon River. Unalakleet has long been a major trade center between the Athabascans who lived in the interior of Alaska and the Inupiat who lived on the coast. The Russian-American Company built a trading post here at Unalakleet in the 1830s. Sami reindeer herders from Lapland were brought to Unalakleet to teach sound herding practices in 1898. In 1901, the United States Army Signal Corps built a 605-mile (974 km) telegraph line from St. Michael that passed through Unalakleet.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School Unalakleet AK
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Unalakleet AK.
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