How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Unionville Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Unionville VA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. 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 evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Unionville residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 remainder 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?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Unionville VA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select 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 as well as 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is required to drive 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. 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Unionville VA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Unionville VA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, 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 measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Unionville VA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Virginia licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Virginia and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Unionville VA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several 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 important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. 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 qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Unionville VA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Unionville VA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Virginia, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Virginia testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Unionville VA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Unionville VA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Unionville VA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Unionville VA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Unionville Virginia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Bath, New York
Bath is a town in Steuben County, New York, United States. The Town of Bath has an area of 96.3 sq mi (249 km2) and a population of 12,097 (in 2000). Its largest settlement is the Village of Bath, which has an area of 2.9 sq mi (7.5 km2) and a population of 5,641 (in 2000). The Village is the county seat of Steuben County. The Town is located in the central part of the county, northwest of Elmira, New York. The Town (and Village) are either named after the city in England or after Lady Bath, daughter of a landowner.
The town was founded in 1793 and was part of a land investment by wealthy Briton William Pulteney, and named after Bath in England, where he owned extensive estates. It was created along with Steuben County in 1796 and became a mother town of the county, eventually yielding land to seven later towns.
The United States Census Bureau lists the town's total area as 96.3 square miles (249.4 km²), 96.0 square miles (248.6 km²) of which is land. 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²)(0.32%) of the total area is water.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Unionville VA
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Unionville VA.
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