How to Choose the Right CDL Training School
Updated: Feb 16
Choosing the right CDL training school is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your truck driving career. While you might think a school is just a school and it’s a requirement to getting your CDL, the right school can help you develop the necessary skills, land the perfect job, and network with fellow drivers.
Just like choosing a college or company to work for, it’s important to determine what factors are the most important to you. Do you need a school with a flexible schedule because of your current job or family commitments? Maybe you prefer a hands-on education? Or perhaps you want a school with a small class so you can spend more time with the instructor? Whatever the reason, make sure you consider the four factors below to help you choose the right school for you.
The Type of School
There are three different types of CDL training courses: licensed, certified, and accredited training courses. A licensed school has met the minimum state curriculum, facility, and training requirements.
A certified school is fully licensed by the state and inspected by a third party company to ensure that the school meets a certain standard. In a certified school, students only graduate when they pass the US DOT standards for the trucking industry. An accredited school is a school that meets certain regulations and policies set by the US Department of Education.
A great starting point would be to make sure the school you are considering has PTDI-certified courses. PTDI works with both carriers and truck driving schools to make safety on the road a priority. For the past 30 years PTDI has been developing curriculum and certification standards for truck driving schools.
CDL training schools will often help you in your job search after you graduate. When looking at various schools, consider if they offer personal coaching or if they partner with local transport companies. Don’t be afraid to ask the school what their job placement success rate is and what companies recent graduates have found work with.
Avoid schools that use “free training” language because it is most likely a scam. Truck driving education is expensive. Your tuition needs to cover the costs of equipment, fuel, materials, and your instructors’ time among other things.
Driving schools vary widely in pricing depending on a number of factors, but expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for your training. There are some carriers that will cover a portion of the costs for their new recruits. The cost of training will include your classroom time plus actual in-the-driver-seat training. Make sure you read the contract carefully before signing to make sure all the costs are included and you aren’t surprised at graduation.
Your driving school should be comprehensive and include a generous mix of classroom time, range, and on-the-road training in a truck. You’ll learn all the basics like road signs and rules, map reading, managing logbooks, and all the driving skills like turning, backing up, and maneuvering. Some schools might even go above and beyond and require you to learn all the important state and federal regulations.
Choosing the right CDL training programs is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your truck driving career. Your education is just the start to your career so make sure you put your right foot forward and choose the school that will provide you the best training and gets you the job that you want.
This article was originally featured on Teamrunsmart.com.