How to Select a CDL Training School near Healy Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Healy AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Healy home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. 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 select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Healy AK, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address 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). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is needed 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. Several 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Healy AK trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Healy AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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 standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Healy AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alaska licensing department to make sure 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 teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Healy AK schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Healy AK schools you are considering 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 driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Healy AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Healy AK school you enroll in offers 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 dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Healy AK employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Healy AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Healy AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Healy Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Healy is located at 63°58′15″N 149°7′37″W / 63.97083°N 149.12694°W / 63.97083; -149.12694 (63.970833, -149.126944). The George Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3) runs through the community, leading south 18 miles (29 km) to Denali Park and north 56 miles (90 km) to Nenana.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Healy CDP has a total area of 687.2 square miles (1,779.8 km2), of which 687.0 square miles (1,779.2 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.5 km2), or 0.03%, is water. By area, it is the second-largest CDP in the United States, exceeded by only Willow, Alaska.
As is typical of the Alaska Interior, Healy experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with very long, bitterly cold winters and short, warm summers, and straddles the border between USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 2 and 3, indicating the coldest temperature of the year is typically around −40 °F (−40 °C). Average temperatures are below freezing from early October to mid-April, though occasionally chinook winds will push temperatures up to 45 °F (7.2 °C) even in the depths of winter.
Choose the Right Trucking School Healy AK
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Healy AK.
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