How to Find the Right CDL Driving Classes near Fairbanks Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Fairbanks AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Fairbanks home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the appropriate 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 professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Fairbanks 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Fairbanks AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Fairbanks AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Fairbanks AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several 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 numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving 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 relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Fairbanks AK schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to 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 qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fairbanks AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called 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 refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fairbanks AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Fairbanks AK school you enroll in offers 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 instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Fairbanks AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Fairbanks AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Find Out More About Fairbanks Truck Driving Schools
Choose the Best Fairbanks AK Truck Driving Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills 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 vital to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Fairbanks AK.