How to Select a CDL Driving School near Petersburg Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Petersburg AK. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Petersburg home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal 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 goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alaska and within the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Petersburg 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). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Petersburg AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Petersburg AK trucking schools are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Petersburg AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Petersburg AK schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained 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 professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Petersburg AK school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs 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 Petersburg AK schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of Petersburg AK trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the Petersburg AK schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide 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 also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Petersburg AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession in Petersburg AK. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask 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 poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed in Petersburg AK.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What made you choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare some approaches about how you would like to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Select the Ideal CDL School Petersburg AK
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need 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 select 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 decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Petersburg AK.
A Bit About Petersburg Alaska
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.
European explorers to Mitkof Island encountered the Tlingit. In the nineteenth century, Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant, settled here, building a cannery, sawmill, docks and early structures. The settlement was named Petersburg after him, and it flourished as a fishing port. (Icebergs from the nearby LeConte Glacier provided a source for cooling fish). Petersburg originally incorporated as a town on April 2, 1910. The town had attracted mostly immigrants of Scandinavian origin, thus giving Petersburg the nickname "Little Norway". The Sons of Norway hall was built on one of the piers. Three other canneries were built and the four have operated continuously since. With the establishment of the cannery, Alaskan Natives, including Chief John Lott, began to work there and live year-round at the site.
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