How to Choose the Right Truck Driving School near Wasilla Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Wasilla AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Wasilla residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Wasilla AK, an operator must obtain 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 select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 required 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 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Wasilla AK trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Wasilla AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving 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. On the other hand, even the top Wasilla AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Wasilla AK schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative 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 fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Wasilla AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Wasilla AK schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Wasilla AK school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering 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 placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Wasilla AK employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Wasilla AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Wasilla AK?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wasilla Alaska area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Wasilla is a city in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, United States and the sixth-largest city in Alaska. It is located on the northern point of Cook Inlet in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of the southcentral part of the state. The city's population was 7,831 at the 2010 census, up from 5,469 in 2000. Estimates in 2016 put the population at roughly 9,748. Wasilla is the largest city in the borough and a part of the Anchorage metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 396,142 in 2013.
Established at the intersection of the Alaska Railroad and Old Carle Wagon Road, the city prospered at the expense of the nearby mining town of Knik. Historically entrepreneurial, the economic base shifted in the 1970s from small-scale agriculture and recreation to support for workers employed in Anchorage or on Alaska's North Slope oilfields and related infrastructure. The George Parks Highway turned the town into a commuter suburb of Anchorage. Several state and federal agencies have offices in Wasilla, including the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Divisions of Public Assistance, Social Services.
Wasilla gained international attention when Sarah Palin, who served as Mayor of Wasilla before her election as Governor of Alaska, was chosen by John McCain as his running mate for Vice President of the United States in the 2008 United States presidential election.
Class B Training Wasilla AK
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B Training. 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 money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Wasilla AK.
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CDL training can get you ready to work in a high-demand industry for major players or smaller, local and regional employers. Classroom time will prepare you for what you’ll need to know to sit for your CDL license exam, while time behind the wheel gives you practical know-how.