How to Choose a CDL Training School near Wrangell Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Wrangell AK. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Wrangell home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive 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 qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Alaska and within the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three 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 pick a truck driving school near Wrangell AK, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 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 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 required 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. 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds 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 operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Wrangell AK truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Wrangell AK truck driving schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Wrangell AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Wrangell AK schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the Wrangell AK school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark 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 Wrangell AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of Wrangell AK truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are contemplating 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 truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the Wrangell AK schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Wrangell AK school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in Wrangell AK. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask 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 graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed in Wrangell AK.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize a number of approaches about how you would like to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Wrangell AK
Selecting the right truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking 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 select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Wrangell AK.
A Bit About Wrangell Alaska
The City and Borough of Wrangell (Tlingit: Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw) is a borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census the population was 2,369. Incorporated as a Unified Home Rule Borough on May 30, 2008, Wrangell was previously a city in the Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area (afterwards renamed the Petersburg Census Area (the Petersburg Borough was formed from part of this census area)). Its Tlingit name is Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw (“Ḵaachx̱an’s Little Lake” with áa-kʼw ‘lake-diminutive’). The Tlingit people residing in the Wrangell area, who were there centuries before Europeans, call themselves the Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan after the nearby Stikine River. Alternately they use the autonym Shxʼát Ḵwáan, where the meaning of shxʼát is unknown.
The central (urban) part of Wrangell is located at 56°28′15″N 132°22′36″W / 56.47083°N 132.37667°W / 56.47083; -132.37667, in the northwest corner of Wrangell Island, whereas the borough now encompasses the entire eastern half of the former Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area, in addition to the area around Meyers Chuck, which was formerly in the Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area. It also includes Thoms Place, a former census-designated place on Wrangell Island.
Tlingit people and their ancestors have inhabited this island for thousands of years. According to Naanyaa.aayí clan traditions, Tlingit people migrated down the Stikine River during a time when the river still flowed underneath glaciers. The population slowly moved down the river, settling in different locations such as Tlákw.aan "Ancient Village", Sʼiknáx̱ "Across from the Grass", Shaal.aan "Fish Trap Town", Xakw.aan "Sandbar Village", and Kayáash "Platform", Hehl (Xel/Xehl) "Foam People", Hehl being the senior of house of the village. Later settlements on the coast included Chʼuxʼáasʼaan "Waterfall Town" (now Mill Creek), Ḵeishangita.aan "Red Alder Head Village" (site of the Wrangell Institute at Shoemaker Bay), Kʼaatsʼḵu Noow "Among the Sharps Fort" (now Anita Bay), An.áan "Village that Rests" (now Anan Bear Viewing Area), and many others. The numerous petroglyphs found at Petroglyph Beach just north of Wrangell, as well as those scattered on the beaches of the many islands in the vicinity, attest to the long Tlingit occupation.
It is also known and somewhat forgotten, that first peoples coastal migration to the Stikine River happened from the south. The Nass River people had several migrations into the area. The "Git Setti" people tell of their migration story in a totem raised in Wrangell in 1894 called "Kickssetti" Totem.
More Cities of Interest in Alaska