If you want to become a professional truck driver in Virginia you are making the right choice given the demand of truckers and the potential of a lucrative career. To get your CDL, there are certain requirements you need to meet, such as mandatory training that is mandated by the federal government before you are issued a commercial driver’s license.
CDL Requirements in Virginia
To get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Virginia, you need a valid Virginia driver’s license, and be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate, and 21 to drive interstate. You will also need to pass a written exam, road test, and medical exam. If you are 21 years old or older, you may apply for a hazmat endorsement.
How to Select Truck Driving Schools in Virginia
Students in Virginia certainly have a choice when it comes to truck driving schools. Despite this, many people are still unaware of the process they use to make their final choice. In many cases, they focus too much on the less significant features and ignore the most critical ones. After graduating, finding a job is more crucial than attending the best university you can afford. Consider these factors while looking into truck driving schools in Virginia.
Do Your Homework Before Making a Decision
Make sure you conduct an extensive study on the issue before making a final choice. Consider how well a school is remembered by its prior students when evaluating truck driving schools. Attending the program may require a substantial financial investment. Consider the amount of time it takes to acquire a new skill.
Ensure the CDL Training Meets ELDT Requirements
If you are getting a Class A or B license for the first time; upgrading your Class B to A; and/or getting the following endorsements: Passenger (P), School bus (S), or Hazardous (H), you are required to complete the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) through a registered training provider.
The ELDT is a training standard and requirement mandated by the FMCSA to ensure road safety.
The ELDT curriculum is comprised of theory/classroom, behind-the-wheel (range), and road driving. There’s no minimum hours for each part of the training.
Because of the new training mandate, ensure that the truck driving school is a registered trainer with the FMCSA.
Consider the Cost of Truck Driving School
The cost of taking CDL training in Virginia will depend on a number of factors such as whether it’s a Class A or B training program, the number of hours of in-class and practical training, whether the truck is automatic or standard, and the reputation of the school.
Compare truck driving schools in Virginia by looking at the factors that affect their costs. Is there anything that makes them stand out from the rest of the pack?
Be careful with CDL training that is significantly cheaper than other schools. The quality and length of training may be compromised at the expense of the lower price.
Some examples of truck driving tuition costs:
- Class A program: $4,500, length: 20 days / 160 hours
- Class B program: $3,900, length: 15 days / 120 hours
- Location: Fredericksburg, Richmond and Roanoke
Check if the Trucking School Offers Financing Options?
Given that CDL tuition can run you a few thousand dollars, it is worthwhile investigating if you qualify for CDL grants and scholarships, and if the school is an approved vendor for certain state grants.
Examples of Grants and Scholarships
- FastForward Grant – FastForward is a workforce training program available to Virginia residents. The program aims to train Virginians in the most in-demand jobs such as professional truck driving. Training is offered at local community colleges across Virginia. Students are only required to pay the first 1/3 of the truck driving tuition, and when the program is successfully completed, FastForward will pay the remaining 2/3. In the occasion that you don’t complete or pass the course, you are required to pay an additional 1/3 of the tuition cost.
- Worforce Financial Assistance (FANTIC) through FastForward – FANTIC offers funding for eligible adults who want to get an industry-recognized credential or license through an approved workforce training program. This funding option can be utilized if truck driving students cannot pay for 1/3 of the tuition. If you qualify, you are only required to pay 10% of the 1/3 upfront cost. For example, let’s say that the cost of CDL training is $3,000, then 1/3 is $1,000, then 10% of $1,000 is $100.
- Scholarships for Military Members
- Other Scholarships
Look for Qualified CDL Instructors
Learning to drive and live on the road requires much practice. In the workplace, expertise is an advantage. The personality traits and experience of a CDL instructor have a significant impact on the quality of their instruction. Veteran drivers turn instructors can offer sage advice that aren’t found in manuals.
Ask graduates of the school for feedback on the instructors. Touring a school is a great opportunity to meet current students and faculty members. Also, ask yourself whether or not you like this place.
Find Out if the Trucking School Offers Job Placement
A truck driver’s next step is to search for employment. Before signing up for truck driving training, ask about the school’s job placement services and track record. You may want to consider going to a truck driving school that has a history of putting its graduates in well-paying jobs as truck drivers.
Research the CDL school’s affiliations and partnerships. If you notice that they are associated with a trucking firm, likely there’s an opportunity to work for that employer after graduation.
Before enrolling in a truck driving school in Virginia, it’s beneficial if you have considered key factors such as tuition costs, school reputation, quality of instructors and job placement assistance. Getting your CDL is a significant investment, so it’s worthwhile to research and select the right CDL training.
List of Trucking Schools in Virginia
TruckersTraining.com provide information, tools and resources to those who want to become a truck driver in the U.S. We hope that you can use the content on the site to help inform you on whether or not you want to drive trucks for a living.