How to Pick the Right Trucker School near Nikiski Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Nikiski AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what 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 several factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Nikiski home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Nikiski AK, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Nikiski AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location 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 instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Nikiski AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Nikiski AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. 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 receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Nikiski AK schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she 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 Nikiski AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? 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 what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Nikiski 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 driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Nikiski 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 teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Nikiski AK employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Nikiski AK area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Nikiski AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Nikiski Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Nikiski is located at 60°42′28″N 151°15′46″W / 60.70778°N 151.26278°W / 60.70778; -151.26278 (60.707891, -151.262646) on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula. It lies along the shore of Cook Inlet between Salamatof to the south and the Swanson River to the northeast. It is bordered across the Swanson River by the Point Possession CDP.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Nikiski CDP has a total area of 75.9 square miles (196.7 km2), of which 69.4 square miles (179.8 km2) are land and 6.5 square miles (16.8 km2), or 8.57%, are water. The CDP is in a low-lying region covered by several lakes, including Stormy Lake, Suneva Lake, Daniels Lake, Timberlost Lake, Island Lake, Foreland Lake, Bernice Lake, and Cabin Lake.
Nikiski first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Tinneh villages of "Kultuk" (AKA Nikishka No. 3) and "Titukilsk and Nikishka". Kultuk had a population of 17, and Titukilsk and Nikishka had a population of 57, all of whom were Tinneh Natives. There apparently were no census reports from 1880 until 1980, when the area was organized as "Nikishka" and made a census-designated place (CDP). The name was altered to "Nikiski" in 1990 and has reported as such on each successive census.
CDL Course Nikiski AK
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Course. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Nikiski AK.
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