How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driving School near Petersburg Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Petersburg AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Petersburg home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow 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 discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Petersburg AK, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two 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. 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example 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 qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Petersburg AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Petersburg AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Petersburg AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Petersburg AK schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential 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 requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit 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 talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide 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 alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Petersburg AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Petersburg AK schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Petersburg AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Petersburg AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Petersburg AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
The Best Truck Driving Schools Petersburg Alaska
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in The Best Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic How To Get Your CDL License. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Petersburg AK.
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Petersburg (Tlingit: Gantiyaakw Séedi "Steamboat Channel") is a census-designated place (CDP) in Petersburg Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 2,948 at the 2010 census, down from 3,224 in 2000.
The borough encompasses Petersburg and Kupreanof, plus mostly uninhabited areas stretching to the Canadian–American border and the southern boundary of the City and Borough of Juneau. While the city of Petersburg ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity (the borough assembly created a service area to assume operation of the former city's services), the tiny city of Kupreanof remains separate within the borough.
Tlingits from Kupreanof Island had long used a summer fish camp at the north end of Mitkof Island. Earlier cultures of indigenous people also used the island: remnants of fish traps and some petroglyphs have been carbon-dated back some 1,000 years.