How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Pilot Station Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Pilot Station AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Pilot Station residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Pilot Station AK, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person 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 highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Pilot Station AK trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Pilot Station AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided 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 caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking 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. On the other hand, even the best of Pilot Station AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors 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 obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Pilot Station AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers 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 some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Pilot Station AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Pilot Station AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Pilot Station AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Pilot Station AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Pilot Station AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pilot Station AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pilot Station Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pilot Station, Alaska
Pilot Station is located at 61°56′10″N 162°53′0″W / 61.93611°N 162.88333°W / 61.93611; -162.88333 (61.936050, -162.883403), on the northern bank of the lower Yukon River, approximately eighty miles ('as the crow flies') from the Bering Sea.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2), of which, 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) of it (25.55%) is water.
Pilot Station first appeared on the 1890 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Inuit village of "Ankahchagmiut." It did not report again until 1920, then as Pilot Station. It formally incorporated in 1969.
Pick the Right CDL School Pilot Station AK
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Pilot Station AK.
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