How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Adak Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Adak AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Adak home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Adak AK, a driver 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 select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 needed to operate 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. A few of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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 license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Adak AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Adak AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Adak AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Adak AK schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Adak AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some 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 called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Adak AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask 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 facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Adak AK school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Adak AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Adak AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Adak AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Adak Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Adak /ˈeɪdæk/, formerly Adak Station, (Unangax̂: Adaax) is a city located on Adak Island, in the Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 326, up from 316 in 2000. It is the westernmost municipality in the United States and the southernmost city in Alaska. (See Extreme points of the United States.) The city is the former location of the Adak Army Base and Adak Naval Operating Base, NAVFAC Adak. There are no radio stations within 200 miles (320 km) of Adak; radio can be received in Adak only through satellite or shortwave receivers.
Adak is located on Kuluk Bay, on Adak Island, in the Andreanof Islands group of the Aleutian Islands Recording District, and in the 3rd Judicial District. It lies 1,200 miles (1,930 km) southwest of Anchorage and 450 miles (724 km) west of Dutch Harbor at 51.872° North, 176.636° West (Sec. 10, T096S, R195W, Seward Meridian), near the Russian end of the arc that makes up this volcanic island chain. Flight time to Anchorage is three hours or longer depending on weather. Adak is the southernmost community in Alaska and on the same latitude as Haida Gwaii in Canada, and Brussels, Belgium. It is less than three degrees of latitude north of the 49th parallel, which forms the western part of the land border between the Contiguous United States and Canada.
Adak lies in the subpolar oceanic climate zone, characterized by persistently overcast skies, moderated temperatures, high winds, and frequent cyclonic storms. Winter squalls produce wind gusts in excess of 100 knots (120 mph; 190 km/h). During the summer, extensive fog forms over the Bering Sea and North Pacific. Average temperatures range from 20 to 60 °F (−7 to 16 °C), but wind chill factors can be severe. Average annual precipitation is 65.6 inches (1,670 mm) annually, concentrated markedly in fall and winter. December is the wettest single month on average, while June and July are markedly the driest months, with thunderstorms virtually unknown here. Snowfall averages nearly 100 inches (2,500 mm) per winter season, which however tends to melt soon after falling. With 263 rainy days per year, Adak has the second highest number of any inhabited locality in the United States after Hilo, Hawaii.
Select the Right CDL School Adak AK
Choosing the right truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need 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 enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Adak AK.
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