How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Vienna Virginia
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Vienna VA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Vienna home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Virginia and within the United States, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Vienna VA, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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. Some 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Vienna VA truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Vienna VA truck driving schools are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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 know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver 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. Having said that, even the best of Vienna VA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Virginia licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Virginia and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Vienna VA schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though 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 crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the Vienna VA school and talk to the instructors 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Vienna VA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain Vienna VA trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Virginia, find out if the Vienna VA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Virginia testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Vienna VA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career in Vienna VA. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed in Vienna VA.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters frequently ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a truck driver, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must organize a number of ideas about how you would like to answer them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Vienna VA
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Vienna VA.
A Bit About Vienna Virginia
Vienna (/viˈɛnə/) is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, it had a population of 15,687. Significantly more people live in ZIP codes with the Vienna postal addresses (22180, 22181, and 22182) bordered approximately by Interstate 66 on the south, Interstate 495 on the east, Route 7 to the north, and Hunter Mill road to the west.
In August 2013, CNNMoney and Money magazine ranked Vienna, VA third on its list of the 100 best places to live in the United States. In addition to highly ranked public schools, its assets include a downtown with many small businesses, a Washington Metro station with large parking garages (the western terminus of the Orange Line) just south of the town, and a portion of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park hiker/biker trail cutting through the center of the town. Tysons Corner, a residential, commercial and shopping district, is nearby, as is Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Non-native settlement in the region dates to ca. 1740. In 1754, prominent soldier and land owner Colonel Charles Broadwater settled within the town boundaries. Broadwater's son-in-law, John Hunter built the first recorded house there in 1767, naming it Ayr Hill (recalling his birthplace, Ayr, Scotland.) That name was subsequently applied to the tiny, developing community. The name of the town was changed in the 1850s, when a doctor named William Hendrick settled there on the condition that the town would rename itself after his hometown, Phelps, New York, then known as Vienna.
On June 17, 1861 a relatively minor but widely noted military engagement occurred there, the Battle of Vienna, one of the earliest armed clashes of the Civil War. A would-be Union occupation unit under Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck approached Vienna from the east by train but was ambushed and forced to retreat by a superior Confederate force led by Colonel Maxcy Gregg. Today, several historical markers in Vienna detail its Civil War history.
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