How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Kiana Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Kiana AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Kiana residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 discuss 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 Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Kiana AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 short explanations of the two 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 greater 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 operate 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 certain types of vehicles, for instance 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 Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Kiana AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Kiana AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty 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 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 operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Kiana AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kiana AK schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods 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 teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Kiana AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Kiana AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Kiana AK school you choose offers 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 willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Kiana AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Kiana AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Kiana AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Kiana Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Kiana, meaning where three rivers meet, was founded several centuries ago. Before Kiana became a village, the Inupiat Eskimos tended to travel with certain animal herds; constantly hunting for meat and furs.
In the 1800s, the Inupiaqs of Kiana used to live along the Kobuk River. Throughout the year the villagers would hunt and fish near their houses. They moved to where there was an abundance of animals and fish. The Inupiaqs lived in sod houses, and did not live in them twice, because they would move to where the animals were.
When someone died inside the house they abandoned it, believing they would catch a contagious disease. Instead of building coffins or digging graves, the villagers wrapped the bodies of the deceased in cloths and put poles in them to make a teepee shape.
Pick the Best Trucking School Kiana AK
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Kiana AK.
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