How to Find the Right Truck Driving School near West Point Virginia
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near West Point VA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your West Point residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and West Point VA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two 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. 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 more 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the West Point VA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the West Point VA area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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 several advantages. Potential 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 ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving 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. However, even the best of West Point VA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Virginia licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Virginia and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most West Point VA schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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 essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the West Point VA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the West Point VA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Virginia, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Virginia testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the West Point VA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few West Point VA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other West Point VA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near West Point VA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the West Point Virginia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
West Point, Virginia
West Point is located at 37°32′37″N 76°48′19″W / 37.54361°N 76.80528°W / 37.54361; -76.80528 (37.543733, −76.805366). The York River is formed at West Point by the confluence of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers; from there, it separates the Virginia Peninsula and Middle Peninsula regions of eastern Virginia as it flows approximately 40 miles to the Chesapeake Bay.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.7 square miles (17.2 km²), of which, 5.2 square miles (13.3 km²) of it is land and 1.5 square miles (4.0 km²) of it (23.12%) is water.
The current site of West Point was once the site of Cinquoteck, a Native American village of the local Mattaponi, an Algonquian-speaking tribe affiliated with the Powhatan Confederacy. During the first half of the 17th century, the Confederacy and the English colonists who established their first permanent settlement at Jamestown in 1607 were frequently in conflict. By mid-century, the Natives had been largely overcome, including the area of Cinquoteck, by the ever-expanding Colony of Virginia.
Getting A CDL West Point VA
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation 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 available 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 Getting A CDL. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in West Point VA.
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