How to Decide on the Right Trucking School near Skagway Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Skagway AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Skagway residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address 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 operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Skagway AK, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving 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). Following are brief descriptions 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 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 drive 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Skagway AK trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Skagway AK area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. 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 Skagway AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
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 teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Skagway AK schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Skagway AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Skagway 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 some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Skagway AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Skagway AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Skagway 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Skagway AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Skagway Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The Municipality and Borough of Skagway is a first-class borough in Alaska on the Alaska Panhandle. As of the 2010 census, the population was 968. Estimates put the 2015 population at 1,057 people. The population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 visitors. Incorporated as a borough on June 25, 2007, it was previously a city (urban Skagway located at 59°27′30″N 135°18′50″W / 59.45833°N 135.31389°W / 59.45833; -135.31389) in the Skagway-Yakutat-Angoon Census Area (now the Hoonah–Angoon Census Area).
The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and the tourist trade is a big part of the business of Skagway. The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, part of the area's mining past, is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer months. Skagway is also part of the setting for Jack London's book The Call of the Wild, Will Hobbs's book Jason's Gold, and for Joe Haldeman's novel, Guardian. The John Wayne film North to Alaska (1960) was filmed nearby.
The name Skagway is derived from shԍagéi, a Tlingit idiom which figuratively refers to rough seas in the Taiya Inlet, which are caused by strong north winds. (See, "Etymology and the Mythical Stone Woman", below.)
Truck Driving Schools Cost Skagway AK
Selecting the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available 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 Truck Driving Schools Cost. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm 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 in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Skagway AK.
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