How to Select a Trucking School near Whittier Alaska
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Whittier AK. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Whittier residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alaska and within the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Whittier AK, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief explanations of 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. 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 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. Some 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Whittier AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Whittier AK trucking schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively 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 Whittier 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 history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alaska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, 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 personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach 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 takes time. The majority of Whittier AK schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the Whittier 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 qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Whittier AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain Whittier AK truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are considering 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 trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, ask if the Whittier AK schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Whittier 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 willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career in Whittier AK. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement 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 firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed in Whittier AK.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a trucker, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should ready several ideas about how you want to address them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Whittier AK
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession 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 a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary 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 consider 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 option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Whittier AK.
A Bit About Whittier Alaska
Whittier is a city at the head of the Passage Canal in the U.S. state of Alaska, about 58 miles southeast of Anchorage. The city is within the Valdez–Cordova Census Area. The 2015 population estimate was 214 people, almost all of whom live in a single building. Whittier is also a port for the Alaska Marine Highway.
The region occupied by Whittier was once part of the portage route of the Chugach people native to Prince William Sound. Later, the passage was used by Russian and American explorers, and by prospecting miners during the gold rush. The nearby Whittier glacier was named for American poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1915, and the town eventually took the name as well.
During World War II, the United States Army constructed a military facility, complete with port and railroad near Whittier Glacier and named the facility Camp Sullivan. The spur of the Alaska Railroad to Camp Sullivan was completed in 1943 and the port became the entrance for United States soldiers into Alaska.
The two buildings that dominate the town were built after World War II. The 14-story Hodge Building (renamed Begich Towers) was completed in 1957 and contains 150 two- and three-bedroom apartments plus bachelor efficiency units. Dependent families and Civil Service employees were moved into this high-rise. The Whittier School was connected by a tunnel at the base of the west tower so students could safely access school on days with bad weather. The building was named in honor of Colonel Walter William Hodge, who was a civil engineer and the commanding officer of 93rd Engineer Regiment on the Alcan Highway.
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