Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), Virginia Beach, VA.....just Graduated!!!

Topic 2471 | Page 1

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LittleFeet Trucker's Comment
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I have read reviews of trucking schools and found it helpful so I wanted to write about my experience to help others. I am an over 40 female who worked in call centers and waitressing but always wanted to drive a truck.

I decided a few months ago to take the opportunity to go to truck driving school. I checked out the schools in the area and found ATI to be the best choice. They had the best trucks, most experienced instructors, and an open door policy. My recruiter said I could stop by the school anytime before I even signed up and I did. I also took into account reviews I had read and spoke to truckers in the area.

I could have gone to company-sponsored training or shorter courses, but I know how I learn. It takes some time to sink in and with the experience all the instructors had to share, there was lots of extra tidbits and valuable stories. All the instructors have at least 10 years of experience and are happy to share their insights. This was an excellent choice for me.

The course is 8 weeks long. The first 4 weeks is classroom with cdl manual, trip planning, hazmat and logging. The 5th week is spent on the range pad, backing. I was in a class of 11 students and there were 4-5 instructors there all week. The 6th thru 8th week was spent on the road,.....yes, the roads of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, both tunnels (Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and Monitor Merrimac Tunnel), Suffolk etc. I even crossed the scales on Route 460. Wow!!

I do want to thank you for the High Road Course. It broke down the CDL manual very well. I even got my cdl permit before class started. You don't have to do this, but it can put you ahead. I shared the website with my fellow students in class also and they said it helped them study for the cdl permit test. There are great tools here.

The week of backing on the range was great. I was scared at first, but for those few seconds where I am just going straight ahead to line up for backing, and I don't need to worry about the clutch or shifting, I could already feel the freedom of the open road. The instructors would tell me to keep that feeling and hang onto it if I get frustrated....and I got frustrated. But each instructor was supportive, gave constructive criticism, and I was able to take a little tidbit of advice from each of them to work out what I needed to know to get those wheels passing within 3 feet of those cones.

The instructors also took that 5th week to gauge which students would work well together and with which instructors. We were broken up in 3 groups, 1 instructor for up to 4 students and spent all day on the road. We traded off trucks every few days so we could get used to each one. They were the same model, but the clutch and transmission were a little different in each.

All in all, it was a lot of hard work and very rewarding. My group bonded quickly when we got on the road. It didn't take long to realize we really have each other's lives in our hands. I took the DMV test yesterday and passed just fine.

This all sounds so positive but it was a great experience and I am very happy with my choice. My next step is to pick a trucking company, but that's for another forum...

Thanks Again,

LittleFeet Trucker

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Wine Taster's Comment
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I looked into to ATI. They seem really expensive. How are they for job placement?

LittleFeet Trucker's Comment
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The first day of class, we met the job placement lady. She is always talking to companies and you can speak to her anytime. She actually is in the office right at school every Monday all day. She spoke to us one on one in our last week. That's when she kicks into high gear, and really works with what we are looking for and helps us find it. She is very honest in admitting that most new jobs are going to be over the road , but there are some regional and even the occasional local position that she may be able to find. Just talk to her one on one from the beginning; she is a great tool.

I forgot to mention in my post that we also had at least 5 major trucking companies recruiters visit in the first few weeks of class. A few alumni also came by with their trucks and their stories.

As far as cost, they are expensive, but they are also the best in the area, in my opinion. I found out during school that another school I was considering just hands out a paper for the pretrip inspection and tells you to study it. At ATI, we actually DID the pretrip inspection the second 4 weeks of school every day twice a day. On DMV test day, I scored 101 out of 105 and completed it in 25 minutes. Other schools' students have taken over an hour because they never did the pretrip. I also have heard some students of other schools say they only drove 15 minutes during the whole schooling. I drove 15 minutes the first day and drove more every single day until I was up to almost 2 hours by the last week.

They do have financing options and are very military friendly if you are eligible for the GI bill; there are also programs through unemployment agencies if you have been unemployed. Most major companies also have tuition reimbursement so you could be getting money to help pay for a student loan. Call the ATI recruiter and she may have more information to help you out. Good luck.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Hey that was a great review LittleFeet Trucker! Thanks for that!

smile.gif

Papa Jim's Comment
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I'm also a student at ATI, in the class behind Littlefeet. ATI is good. Tonight finishes week 1 of Phase 2 for us, 3 weeks to go. Just to let you know, I was hired by week 3 of Phase 1 by a company and given a date to report already. Employment is not a problem if your DMV Record is clean and you don't have other "issues" to deal with.

Pushing on....

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Patrick S.'s Comment
member avatar

I just finished my training with ATI and received my CDL today. Woohoo! The training is great! Every instructor has a boat load of experience, and I found the personal experiences by the instructors to be quite educational as well. The school is accredited by Virginia, DMV and DOT. The student to instructor ratio is 4 to 1. The instructors encourage feedback and are willing to stay after class or even work extra hours to give you the driving time needed to help you feel comfortable in the driver's seat. If you follow their instructions YOU will pass your CDL drivers test. :-)

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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