How to Choose the Right CDL Training School near Tok Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Tok AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Tok home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Tok AK, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify 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 distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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. 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 operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Tok AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Tok AK area are accredited because of the stringent 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. 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 top Tok AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention 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 train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Tok AK schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Tok AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement 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 rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Tok 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Tok AK school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 few Tok AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Tok AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Tok AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tok Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Tok lies on a large, flat alluvial plain of the Tanana Valley between the Tanana River and the Alaska Range at an important junction of the Alaska Highway (Alaska Route 2) with the Glenn Highway (Alaska Route 1). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 132.3 square miles (343 km2), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,393 people, 534 households, and 372 families residing in the census designated place (CDP). The population density was 10.5 people per square mile (6.1/km²). There were 748 housing units at an average density of 5.7 per square mile (2.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 78.03% White, 0.14% Black or African American, 12.85% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.93% from other races, and 7.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.08% of the population.
There were 534 households out of which 39.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.3% were non-families. 24.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.12.
How To Get Class A CDL Tok AK
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get Class A CDL. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Tok AK.
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