How to Select a Truck Driver School near Juneau Alaska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Juneau AK. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Juneau home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review 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 United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Juneau AK, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations 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 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Juneau AK trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Juneau AK trucking schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Juneau AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alaska licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Juneau AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the Juneau AK school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Juneau AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of Juneau AK truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified 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 rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, ask if the Juneau AK schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Juneau AK school you choose offers 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 instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career in Juneau AK. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Juneau AK.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number 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 excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Select the Right Truck Driver School Juneau AK
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 option of driving 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 in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Juneau AK.
A Bit About Juneau Alaska
The City and Borough of Juneau (/ˈdʒuːnoʊ/ JOO-noh; Tlingit: Dzánti K'ihéeni [ˈtsántʰì kʼìˈhíːnì]), commonly known as Juneau, is the capital city of Alaska. It is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, and it is the second largest city in the United States by area. Juneau has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of what was then the District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900. The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borough to form the current municipality, which is larger by area than both Rhode Island and Delaware.
Downtown Juneau (58°18′07″N 134°25′11″W / 58.30194°N 134.41972°W / 58.30194; -134.41972) is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2010 census, the City and Borough had a population of 31,276. In 2014, the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau was 32,406, making it the second most populous city in Alaska after Anchorage.Fairbanks, however, is the second most populous metropolitan area in the state, with roughly 100,000 residents. Juneau's daily population can increase by roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships between the months of May and September.
The city is named after a gold prospector from Quebec, Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is Dzántik'i Héeni ("Base of the Flounder’s River," dzánti ‘flounder,’ –kʼi ‘base,’ héen ‘river’), and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Áak'w ("Little lake," áa ‘lake,’ -kʼ ‘diminutive’) in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold t'aakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
Juneau is rather unusual among U.S. capitals (except Honolulu, Hawaii) in that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America (although ferry service is available for cars). The absence of a road network is due to the extremely rugged terrain surrounding the city. This in turn makes Juneau a de facto island city in terms of transportation, since all goods coming in and out must go by plane or boat, in spite of the city being located on the Alaskan mainland. Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet (5 m), below steep mountains about 3,500 feet (1,100 m) to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system. The Mendenhall glacier has been gradually retreating; its front face is declining both in width and height.
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