How to Select a Truck Driver School near Nikiski Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Nikiski AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing 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 selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Nikiski home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alaska and within the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Nikiski AK, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Nikiski AK trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Nikiski AK truck driver schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Nikiski AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking 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 teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Nikiski AK schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important 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 be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Nikiski AK school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Nikiski AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Nikiski AK trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different 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 choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the Nikiski AK schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Nikiski AK school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession in Nikiski AK. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Nikiski AK.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a trucker, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Nikiski AK
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into 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 choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Nikiski AK.
A Bit About Nikiski Alaska
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 76.2 square miles (197 km2), of which, 69.6 square miles (180 km2) of it is land and 6.6 square miles (17 km2) of it (8.66%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,327 people, 1,514 households, and 1,130 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 62.2 people per square mile (24.0/km²). There were 1,766 housing units at an average density of 25.4/sq mi (9.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 87.15% White, 0.12% Black or African American, 7.56% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.51% Pacific Islander, 0.83% from other races, and 3.12% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,514 households out of which 41.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.9% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.3% were non-families. 20.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.31.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 33.5% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 5.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 109.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.3 males.
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