How to Pick a Trucking School near Northway Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Northway AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Northway home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to make certain you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Northway AK, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Northway AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Northway AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Northway 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 employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists 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 Northway AK schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training 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 benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Northway AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Northway AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Northway AK school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed 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 attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Northway AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Northway AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Northway AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Northway Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Northway (K’ehtthiign in Upper Tanana Athabascan) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska, United States. The population was 71 at the 2010 census, down from 95 in 2000.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 20.9 square miles (54 km2), of which, 19.2 square miles (50 km2) of it is land and 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2) of it (8.45%) is water.
The highest sea-level pressure in North America was recorded at Northway on January 31, 1989 with a reading of 31.85 inches, a record only surpassed by two readings in Siberia. Due to aircraft altimeters only being able to calibrate to 31 inches, most were grounded.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Northway AK
Picking the right truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose 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 choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Northway AK.
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