How to Find a Truck Driving School near Kobuk Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Kobuk AK. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Kobuk residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Kobuk AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Kobuk AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while performing 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 Kobuk AK area are accredited due to the demanding 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with 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 operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Kobuk AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Kobuk AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through 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, an excellent truck driving 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among 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 Kobuk AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free 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 called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Kobuk AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit 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 deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Kobuk AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Kobuk AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Kobuk AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Kobuk AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Kobuk Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Kobuk was founded in 1899 as the village of Shungnak, a supply point for miners north of the Kobuk River in the Cosmos Hills. A trading post, school, and mission were built and residents came to the settlement. In the 1920s, river erosion led many residents to relocate ten miles downstream (west) to a site called "Kochuk." Kochuk became the new Shungnak, while the original Shungnak became Kobuk in 1928.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.8 square miles (44 km2), of which, 16.1 square miles (42 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (4.34%) is water.
Kobuk first appeared on the 1910 U.S. Census under its previous name of Shungnak, an unincorporated village. It appeared again on the 1920 U.S. Census. With the departure of many residents in 1927 to the "New" Shungnak site, the old site was renamed Kobuk in 1928. It did not appear on the 1930 census, but did beginning again in 1940. In 1970, Kobuk was erroneously reported as the unincorporated "Shungnak Village" (not to be confused with its neighbor city). In 1973, Kobuk was formally incorporated and has reported as Kobuk in every successive census since 1980.
Choose the Ideal Trucking School Kobuk AK
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, 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 a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Kobuk AK.
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