How to Find a CDL Driving School near Triangle Virginia
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Triangle VA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Triangle home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively 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 allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest 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 Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Triangle VA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short summaries for 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 more 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 CDL 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. 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Triangle VA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Triangle VA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Triangle VA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Virginia licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Virginia and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Triangle VA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Triangle VA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver 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 instead of maintaining associations with many different 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Triangle VA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Virginia, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Virginia testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Triangle VA school you enroll in 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 teacher should be willing to commit 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Triangle VA employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Triangle VA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Triangle VA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Triangle Virginia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Triangle is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince William County, Virginia, United States. The population was 8,188 at the 2010 census. It is bounded to the south by the Marine Corps Base Quantico, which surrounds the town of Quantico.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.8 km²), all of it land. It is bounded to the north and west by the town of Dumfries. It is bounded to the west by Prince William Forest Park and to the east by the Potomac River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,500 people, 2,196 households, and 1,341 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 2,088.5 people per square mile (807.4/km²). There were 2,318 housing units at an average density of 880.2/sq mi (340.3/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 61.07% White, 28.33% African American, 0.49% Native American, 2.87% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 3.58% from other races, and 3.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.42% of the population.
Pick the Right CDL School Triangle VA
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Triangle VA.
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