How to Choose a Trucking School near Clarks Point Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Clarks Point AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Clarks Point residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 rest 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 Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Clarks Point AK, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses 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 driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 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 kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Clarks Point AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Clarks Point AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed 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 Clarks Point AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing 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 talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Clarks Point AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach 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 quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide plenty of 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Clarks Point AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Clarks Point AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Clarks Point AK school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Clarks Point AK employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Clarks Point 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 navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Clarks Point AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Clarks Point Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Clarks Point Airport
As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 497 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008, an increase of 15% from the 432 enplanements in 2007. This airport is included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2009–2013, which categorized it as a general aviation facility.
Clarks Point Airport covers an area of 114 acres (46 ha) at an elevation of 80 feet (24 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 18/36 with a gravel surface measuring 3,200 by 60 feet (975 x 18 m). For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2008, the airport had 6,000 aircraft operations, an average of 16 per day: 67% air taxi and 33% general aviation.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School Clarks Point AK
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available 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 drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking 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 regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Clarks Point AK.
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