How to Pick the Right CDL Driving School near Old Harbor Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Old Harbor AK. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Old Harbor residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Old Harbor AK, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 CDL 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. A few 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Old Harbor AK trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Old Harbor AK area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Old Harbor AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Old Harbor AK schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish lots 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Old Harbor AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Old Harbor AK schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Old Harbor AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Old Harbor AK employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Old Harbor AK area vocational or trade 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Truck Driver Education Old Harbor Alaska
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driver Education and wanting information on the topic CDL License Training. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Old Harbor AK.
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Old Harbor, Alaska
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.5 square miles (68.7 km2), of which 20.5 square miles (53.2 km2) is land and 6.0 square miles (15.5 km2), or 22.59%, is water.
The community of Old Harbor has its origins in the era of Russian conquest. On August 14, 1784, Grigory Shelikhov with 130 Russian fur traders massacred (see Awa'uq Massacre) several hundred Qik’rtarmiut Sugpiat tribe of Alutiiq men, women and children at Refuge Rock, a tiny stack island off the eastern coast of Sitkalidak Island. In Alutiiq, this sacred place is known as Awa'uq ("to become numb").
Old Harbor first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village with 160 residents: 155 Inuit and 5 Creole (Mixed Russian and Native). It returned with 86 residents in 1890, all Native. It did not return again until 1920. It formally incorporated in 1966.