How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Chugiak Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Chugiak AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Chugiak residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll get the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Chugiak AK, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes 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 discuss Class A and Class 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). Following are short descriptions of 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Chugiak AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Chugiak AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided 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 caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Chugiak AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. 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 good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers 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 receiving 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Chugiak AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained 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 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 instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish 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 necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Chugiak AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Chugiak AK schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing 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 Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Chugiak AK school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Chugiak AK employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Chugiak AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Chugiak AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Chugiak Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The name "Chugiak" comes from a Dena'ina word meaning "place of many places". Chugiak was first heavily settled in the 1950s, primarily by the homesteading by former military personnel who had served in Alaska during World War II. It is currently one of the main sites of suburban expansion near Anchorage.
There are about 8,300 residents, most of whom work in Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and are spread out mainly along the Glenn Highway. The urban cluster of Anchorage Northeast (including Chugiak and surroundings) has an estimated population of 31,000 (2010), covering an area of 39 km².
Chugiak is also the home of the "Birchwood Shooting & Recreational Park", (adjacent to the Birchwood Airport), the largest rifle, pistol, and shotgun range facility in the State of Alaska. The annual Alaska State Trap and Skeet competitions are held there.
Select the Right CDL School Chugiak 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 that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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 receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. 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 Chugiak AK.
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