How to Find a Truck Driving School near Haines Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Haines AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Haines home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alaska and within the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Haines AK, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 needed to drive 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. 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Haines AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Haines AK truck driving schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Haines AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Haines AK schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the Haines AK school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Haines AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of Haines AK trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be 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, find out if the Haines AK schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Haines AK school you choose 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 teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession in Haines AK. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted in Haines AK.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a trucking operator, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare some approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Haines AK
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn 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. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Haines AK.
A Bit About Haines Alaska
Haines (Tlingit: Deishú) is a census-designated place located in Haines Borough, Alaska, United States. It is in the northern part of the Alaska Panhandle, near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
The area around present-day Haines was called Dtehshuh or "end of the trail" by the Chilkat group of Tlingit. It received this name because they could portage (carry) their canoes from the trail they used to trade with the interior, which began at the outlet of the Chilkat River, to Dtehshuh and save 20 miles (32 km) of rowing around the Chilkat Peninsula.
The first European, George Dickinson, an agent for the North West Trading Company, settled at Dtehshuh in 1879. In 1881, the Chilkat asked Sheldon Jackson to send missionaries to the area. Samuel Hall Young, a Presbyterian minister, was sent. Jackson built the Chilkat Mission and school at Dtehshuh in 1881, on land given to the church by the Chilkat. The Mission was renamed "Haines" in 1884 in honor of Francina E. Haines, the chairwoman of the committee that raised funds for its construction.
At the time, the boundary between Canada and the U.S. was disputed and vaguely defined. There were overlapping land claims from the United States' purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 and British claims along the coast. Canada had requested a survey after British Columbia united with it in 1871, but the idea was rejected by the United States as being too costly given the area's remoteness, sparse settlement, and limited economic or strategic interest.
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