How to Choose the Right Truck Driver School near Woodbridge Virginia
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Woodbridge VA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Woodbridge home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, 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 target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Woodbridge VA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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, 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 Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Woodbridge VA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Woodbridge VA area are accredited due to 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Woodbridge VA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out 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, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Virginia licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Virginia and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, 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 look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Woodbridge VA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish ample 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 real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Woodbridge VA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Woodbridge VA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Virginia, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Virginia testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Woodbridge VA school you select 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job 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 start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Woodbridge VA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Woodbridge VA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Woodbridge VA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Woodbridge Virginia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Woodbridge is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince William County, Virginia, United States, located 20 miles (32 km) south of Washington, D.C. Bounded by the Occoquan and Potomac rivers, Woodbridge Magisterial District had 54,275 residents at the 2010 census. The Woodbridge census-designated place comprises just one portion of the magisterial district and had a population of 4,055 in the 2010 census. The census-designated place consists solely of the section north of Occoquan Road and Dawson Beach Road, and east of Interstate 95.
Woodbridge offers a variety of amenities for residents and visitors, including the Potomac Mills shopping mall and the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Centre Shopping Centers. Woodbridge is served by the Prince William County Public Schools, and the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College borders the district. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, formerly Potomac Hospital, recently expanded and now has the capacity to serve 183 patients. Transportation includes access to Interstate 95, two VRE commuter train stations, bus service, and a local "slugging" system, offering residents a variety of transit options.
Woodbridge offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for resident and visitors. The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life including the bald eagles and ospreys. Veteran's Park and Leesylvania State Park are located on the Potomac River and provide swimming, boating, picnic and hiking services. Close-by is Rippon Lodge, the oldest house in Prince William County, which is open for tours throughout the summer. Trails at Leesylvania Park lead to the ancestral home of the Lee family.
Class B CDL School Woodbridge VA
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold 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. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B CDL School. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Woodbridge VA.
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