How to Select a Truck Driver School near North Pole Alaska
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near North Pole AK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your North Pole residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Alaska and within the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school near North Pole AK, we will discuss Class A and 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). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the North Pole AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few North Pole AK truck driver 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For 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 Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of North Pole AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering 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 instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most North Pole AK schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the North Pole AK school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard 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 North Pole AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from some North Pole AK trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal 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.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the North Pole AK schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the North Pole AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in North Pole AK. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask 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 hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted in North Pole AK.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a trucker, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare some ideas about how you want to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School North Pole AK
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of 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 North Pole AK.
A Bit About North Pole Alaska
North Pole, Alaska
North Pole is a small city in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska metropolitan statistical area. As of the 2016 United States Census, the city had a population of 2,232, up from 1,570 in 2000.
The name "North Pole" is often applied to the entire area covered by its zip code, 99705. This area stretches between Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, and between the Chena River and the Tanana River, including subdivisions off of Badger Road, a loop road connecting the eastern edge of Fairbanks city limits with North Pole city limits, and in the nearby census-designated place of Moose Creek. Despite the name, the city is about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) south of Earth's geographic North Pole and 125 miles (200 km) south of the Arctic Circle.
The city is a summertime attraction for tourists visiting nearby Fairbanks and, due to its location on the Richardson Highway, those traveling to and from the Alaska Highway and Valdez. North Pole is home to two oil refineries, the town's major industry aside from tourism. The larger refinery, operated by Flint Hills Resources, is a major source of jet fuel for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Tanker car traffic on the Alaska Railroad, entering and leaving the refinery, frequently bisects the city.
While the real North Pole has no terra firma many travelers discovered this town as an ideal way to finally visit the home of Santa Claus. That revelation made this small town in Alaska a must visit during the holidays causing the town to create more and more Santa Claus themed attractions. Its biggest attraction is a gift shop named Santa Claus House, the modern-day incarnation of a trading post established in the town's early days. The Santa Claus House is known for the world's largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus outside.
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