How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Eagle River Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Eagle River AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Eagle River residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Alaska and within the United States, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Eagle River AK, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 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 needed 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Eagle River AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should 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 some additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Eagle River AK trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Eagle River AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims 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 requires time. The majority of Eagle River AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the Eagle River AK school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish ample 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 tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Eagle River AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Eagle River AK truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask if the Eagle River AK schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Eagle River AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Eagle River AK. Verify that the schools you are reviewing 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted in Eagle River AK.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to decide on trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a trucking operator, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Eagle River AK
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may 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 choose an independent 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 choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Eagle River AK.
A Bit About Eagle River Alaska
Eagle River, Anchorage
Eagle River is a community within the Municipality of Anchorage situated on the Eagle River for which it is named, between Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Chugach State Park in the Chugach Mountains. Its ZIP code is 99577. If Eagle River were not part of the Municipality of Anchorage, it would be classified as one of the five largest cities in Alaska.
The name Eagle River was first reported in 1939 by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Eagle River/Chugiak area was settled by homesteaders and prospered on agricultural activities. The Eagle River post office was established in 1961.
In spite of some local opposition, both Chugiak and Eagle River became annexed to the Municipality of Anchorage, when the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough were unified in 1975. Efforts to secede from the Municipality surfaced around 2000, but are no longer prominent as the community has seen an influx of individuals who have social and economic ties to Anchorage and the nearby Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson.
Neighborhoods along the Glenn Highway and Old Glenn Highway corridor are level or sloping, rising towards the Chugach Mountains east of the Old Glenn Highway. The remainder of the community lies along the canyon of the Eagle River; some neighborhoods built in the late 20th century and early 21st century near the Briggs Bridge are built very close to the bottom of the canyon. Neighborhoods along the northern portions of Eagle River, plus Hiland Road and Eagle River Road east of the curve where the road leaves the section line and descends into the canyon, mainly consist of houses built across the mountainsides. Wallace Mountain, on the far northeast corner of the community's road system, is home to several radio station transmitters and towers at the 1,900 feet (580 m) level.
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