How to Select a Truck Driver School near Valdez Alaska
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Valdez AK. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Valdez home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alaska and within the United States, an operator needs to obtain 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 select a truck driver school near Valdez AK, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 CDL 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. 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 CDL 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Valdez AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Valdez AK truck driving schools are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Valdez AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider 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 provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following 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 personalized attention 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 period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Valdez AK schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative 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 successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Valdez AK school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Valdez AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some Valdez AK truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the Valdez AK schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Valdez AK school you choose 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 instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession in Valdez AK. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates 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 not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Valdez AK.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several approaches about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down several ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driver School Valdez AK
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Valdez AK.
A Bit About Valdez Alaska
Valdez (/vælˈdiːz, vəlˈdɛz/; Alutiiq: Suacit) is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the city is 3,976, down from 4,036 in 2000. The city was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A former Gold Rush town, it is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. It suffered huge damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port as well as a freight terminal.
The port of Valdez was named in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A scam to lure prospectors off the Klondike Gold Rush trail led to a town being developed there in 1898. Some steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail as a better route for miners to reach the Klondike gold fields and discover new ones in the Copper River country of interior Alaska than that from Skagway. The prospectors who believed the promotion found that they had been deceived. The glacier trail was twice as long and steep as reported, and many men died attempting the crossing, in part by contracting scurvy during the long cold winter without adequate supplies. The town did not flourish until after the construction of the Richardson Highway in 1899, which connected Valdez and Fairbanks. With a new road and its ice-free port, Valdez became permanently established as the first overland supply route into the interior of Alaska. The highway was open in summer-only until 1950, when it was operated as a year-round route.
In 1907, a shootout between two rival railroad companies ended Valdez's hope of becoming the railroad link from tidewater to the Kennicott Copper Mine. The mine, located in the heart of the Wrangell-St.Elias Mountains, was one of the richest copper ore deposits on the continent. The exact location of the right-of-way dispute, in which one man was killed and several injured, is located at the southern entrance of Keystone Canyon on the Valdez side. A half-completed tunnel in the canyon marks the end of railroad days in Valdez. A rail line to Kennicott was later established from the coastal city of Cordova.
The city of Valdez was badly shaken but not destroyed in the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. Soil liquefaction of the glacial silt that formed the city's foundation led to a massive underwater landslide, which caused a section of the city's shoreline to break off and sink into the sea. The underwater soil displacement caused a local tsunami 30 feet (9.1 m) high that traveled westward, away from the city and down Valdez Bay. 32 men, women, and children were on the city's main freight dock to help with and watch the unloading of the SS Chena, a supply ship that came to Valdez regularly. All 32 people died as the dock collapsed into the ocean with the violent landslide. There were no deaths in the town.
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