How to Choose the Best CDL Driving School near Eagle River Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Eagle River AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Eagle River residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Eagle River AK, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the 2 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Eagle River AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Eagle River AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Eagle River AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several 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 provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Eagle River AK schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative 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 differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Eagle River AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Eagle River AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Eagle River AK school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at 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 companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Eagle River AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Eagle River 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Right Eagle River AK CDL Driver Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Eagle River AK.