How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Dillingham Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Dillingham AK. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Dillingham home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Alaska and within the USA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Dillingham AK, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the 2 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Dillingham AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Dillingham AK truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Dillingham AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing department to make sure 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 instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Dillingham AK schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the Dillingham AK school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real 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 reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Dillingham AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some Dillingham AK truck driver 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 instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the Dillingham AK schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Dillingham AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession in Dillingham AK. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Dillingham AK.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Choose the Best Trucking School Dillingham AK
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Dillingham AK.
A Bit About Dillingham Alaska
Dillingham /ˈdɪlɪŋhæm/ (Curyuk in Central Alaskan Yup'ik), also known as Curyung and (for the southwestern section) Kanakanak, is a city in Dillingham Census Area, Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 2,329.
Dillingham is on Nushagak Bay at the mouth of the Nushagak River, an inlet of Bristol Bay, an arm of the Bering Sea in the North Pacific, in southwestern Alaska. It is located at 59°02′48″N 158°30′31″W / 59.04667°N 158.50861°W / 59.04667; -158.50861 (59.046751, -158.508665).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.3 square miles (94.1 km2). 33.6 square miles (86.9 km2) of it is land, and 2.8 square miles (7.2 km2) of it (7.64%) is water. This may change as the City of Dillingham will likely petition the State of Alaska to increase the size of its boundaries to include most of Nushagak Bay and Wood River, to gain revenue from the Nushagak District and Wood River Special Harvest Area commercial salmon fisheries.
Dillingham is located in the 37th district of the Alaska House of Representatives, and is represented by Bryce Edgmon, a Democrat who is from Dillingham.
More Cities of Interest in Alaska