How to Decide on a Trucking School near Kasilof Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Kasilof AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Kasilof residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your goal 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Kasilof AK, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Kasilof AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Kasilof AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Kasilof 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 concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kasilof AK schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Kasilof AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Kasilof AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Kasilof AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to 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 obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Kasilof AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Kasilof AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid 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 Kasilof AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Kasilof Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Kasilof is located at 60°20′7″N 151°14′1″W / 60.33528°N 151.23361°W / 60.33528; -151.23361 (60.335274, -151.233594). It is on the east side of the Cook Inlet on the Kenai Peninsula, on the Sterling Highway, 19 km (12 mi) south Kenai and 62 miles (100 km) north of Homer. It is bordered to the southwest by the Kasilof River, across which is the community of Cohoe. To the north, across Coal Creek, is the community of Kalifornsky.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Kasilof CDP has a total area of 10.6 square miles (27.5 km2), of which 10.4 square miles (27.0 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2), or 1.89%, are water.
Kasilof first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village named "Kassilof." It appeared again in 1890, and in 1900 its name was shortened to the current spelling, Kasilof. It did not appear again on the census until 1930. In 1980, it was made a census-designated place (CDP).
Select the Best CDL School Kasilof AK
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several 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 a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Kasilof AK.
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