How to Select a Truck Driving School near Levelock Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Levelock AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Levelock residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Levelock AK, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Levelock AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Levelock AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Levelock AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction 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 relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Levelock AK schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, 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 necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Levelock AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Levelock AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive 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 driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Levelock AK school you select 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 instructor should be prepared to devote 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Levelock AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Levelock 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 assessing 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 Levelock AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Levelock Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Levelock (Liivlek in Central Alaskan Yup'ik) is a census-designated place (CDP) along the Kvichak River in Lake and Peninsula Borough, Alaska, United States. It was known as Kivichakh, the name given it by indigenous people. At the 2010 census the population was 69, down from 122 in 2000.
As of the census of 2000, there were 122 people, 45 households, and 25 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 8.4 people per square mile (3.2/km²). There were 50 housing units at an average density of 3.4 per square mile (1.3/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 4.92% White, 89.34% Native American, and 5.74% from two or more races. 2.46% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 45 households out of which 37.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.3% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 42.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.96.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Levelock AK
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver 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 choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Levelock AK.
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