How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Port Lions Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Port Lions AK. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Port Lions residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alaska and within the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Port Lions AK, we will discuss Class A and Class 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). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 drive 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. Several 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 types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Port Lions AK truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Port Lions AK truck driver schools are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Port Lions AK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use 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 graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Port Lions AK schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Port Lions AK school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Port Lions AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of Port Lions AK truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the Port Lions AK schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Port Lions AK school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career in Port Lions AK. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Port Lions AK.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask truck driving prospects is "What made you select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Port Lions AK
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases 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 choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Port Lions AK.
A Bit About Port Lions Alaska
Port Lions, Alaska
Port Lions (Masiqsirraq in Alutiiq) is a city located on Kodiak Island in the Kodiak Island Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 194, down from 256 in 2000.
Port Lions was built to house the inhabitants of Ag'waneq from the neighboring island of Afognak and Port Wakefield from Raspberry Island, after their villages were destroyed by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964. Port Lions was built with help from the United States government and the Lions Club. It was named in honor of the club.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 square miles (26 km2), of which, 6.3 square miles (16 km2) of it is land and 3.7 square miles (9.6 km2) of it (36.98%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 256 people, 89 households, and 76 families residing in the city. The population density was 40.3 people per square mile (15.6/km²). There were 106 housing units at an average density of 16.7 per square mile (6.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 34.77% White, 63.28% Native American, and 1.95% from two or more races. 1.95% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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