How to Select a Truck Driver School near Wakefield Virginia
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Wakefield VA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Wakefield home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Virginia and within the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Wakefield VA, 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions 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. 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 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. 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, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Wakefield VA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Wakefield VA truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver 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. However, even the top Wakefield VA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Virginia licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Virginia and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Wakefield VA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the Wakefield VA school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, 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 essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wakefield VA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some Wakefield VA truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Virginia, ask if the Wakefield VA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Virginia testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Wakefield VA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career in Wakefield VA. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed in Wakefield VA.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to address them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driving School Wakefield VA
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation 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 available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Wakefield VA.
A Bit About Wakefield Virginia
Wakefield is an incorporated town in Sussex County, Virginia, United States. The population was 927 at the 2010 census.
Wakefield is widely known for the Virginia Diner, the Airfield Conference and 4-H Educational Center and the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office for Eastern Virginia, which issues weather alerts for the region.
Wakefield also hosts the Virginia Shad Planking.
Wakefield is located at 36°58′13″N 76°59′18″W / 36.970219°N 76.988461°W / 36.970219; -76.988461 (36.970219, -76.988461).
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