How to Select a Trucking School near Stevens Village Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Stevens Village AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Stevens Village home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills 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 choose 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Stevens Village AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief 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. 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 more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Stevens Village AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Stevens Village AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For 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 measure up to 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 business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Stevens Village AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea 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? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. 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 individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Stevens Village AK schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good 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 Stevens Village AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Stevens Village 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 truck driver 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 convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Stevens Village AK school you choose 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 spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Stevens Village AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Stevens Village 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Stevens Village AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Stevens Village Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Stevens Village, Alaska
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 11.0 square miles (28 km2), of which, 10.4 square miles (27 km2) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) of it (5.47%) is water.
Stevens Village originally had been “Stevens Camp,” and was so listed in the 1900 Census. It next appeared on the 1910 U.S. Census as the unincorporated village of Stevens. It returned again in 1920, and in 1930, it returned as "Stephens." From 1940-60, it returned again as "Stevens." In 1970, and in every successive census, it has returned as Stevens Village. It was made a census-designated place (CDP) in 1980.
As of the census of 2000, there were 87 people, 35 households, and 15 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 8.4 people per square mile (3.2/km²). There were 43 housing units at an average density of 4.1/sq mi (1.6/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 3.45% White, 95.40% Native American, 1.15% from other races. 6.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Right Trucking School Stevens Village AK
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Stevens Village AK.
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