How to Pick the Right Trucker School near Juneau Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Juneau AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Juneau residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Juneau AK, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 needed to drive 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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. Some 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Juneau AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Juneau AK area are accredited due to 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Juneau AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement 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 companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Juneau AK schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, 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 might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Juneau AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Juneau AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Juneau AK school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Juneau AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Juneau AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Juneau AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Juneau Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The City and Borough of Juneau (/ˈdʒuːnoʊ/ JOO-noh; Tlingit: Dzánti K'ihéeni [ˈtsántʰì kʼìˈhíːnì]), commonly known as Juneau, is the capital city of Alaska. It is a unified municipality on Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, and it is the second largest city in the United States by area. Juneau has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of what was the District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900. The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borough to form the current municipality, which is larger by area than both Rhode Island and Delaware.
Downtown Juneau (58°18′07″N 134°25′11″W / 58.30194°N 134.41972°W / 58.30194; -134.41972) is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2010 census, the City and Borough had a population of 31,276. In 2014, the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau was 32,406, making it the second most populous city in Alaska after Anchorage.Fairbanks, however, is the state's second most populous metropolitan area, with roughly 100,000 residents. Juneau's daily population can increase by roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships between the months of May and September.
The city is named after a gold prospector from Quebec, Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is Dzántik'i Héeni ("Base of the Flounder’s River," dzánti ‘flounder,’ –kʼi ‘base,’ héen ‘river’), and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Áak'w ("Little lake," áa ‘lake,’ -kʼ ‘diminutive’) in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold t'aakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
CDL Driver Training Juneau AK
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught 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. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Driver Training. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Juneau AK.
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