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How to Choose the Right CDL Training School

Choosing the right CDL training school is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your truck driving career. While you might think all CDL schools are the same and it’s just a requirement to getting your CDL, the right school can actually help you develop the necessary skills, land the perfect job, and network with fellow drivers.

How to Choose the Right CDL Training School

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 five factors below to help you choose the right school for you.

Eligibility Requirements

Before you start looking at schools, make sure you can pass the following requirements to obtain a CDL:

  1. U.S. Citizenship - you must be able to provide proof of U.S citizenship or lawful permanent residency in order to qualify for a CDL program

  2. 18 or Over - all U.S. citizens over the age of 18 are allowed to test for the CDL. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to drive across state lines until you’re 21, but at least you can gain driving experience in your state until then.

  3. Valid Driver’s License - you must hold a valid regular driver's license before applying for a CDL

  4. No DUI’s in the Past 5 Years - you must not have DUI charges within the last five years

  5. DOT Drug Screen & Background Check - you must be able to pass a DOT drug screen test. Certain CDL endorsements may require additional state and background checks, depending on the nature of the job.

The Type of School

There are three different types of CDL training schools: licensed, certified, and accredited. 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 (Professional Truck Driver Institute)-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.

Job Placement Assistance

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.

Financial Aid and Tuition Costs

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 so you aren’t surprised at graduation, and inquire about the school's tuition costs, payment plans, and any available financial aid and grant options.

Reviews and Testimonials

In the digital age, reviews and testimonials play a vital role in assessing the reputation and quality of CDL training schools. Look for online platforms, forums, or social media groups where students and graduates share their experiences. Consider both positive and negative feedback to get a well-rounded understanding of the school's strengths and weaknesses.

Comprehensive Programs

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 program is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your truck driving career. Your education is just the start of your career, so make sure you put your best foot forward and choose the school that will provide you with the best training and gets you the job that you want.

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1 Comment

Albert Dexter
Albert Dexter
Nov 23, 2023

Choosing the right CDL training school is critical to a successful career. During my studies, I faced difficulties in writing assignments and when I came across this page, it was invaluable to me. Their services not only helped me in writing research papers but also provided useful resources. Likewise, when choosing a CDL school, choose reputable schools with experienced instructors and a comprehensive curriculum that provides a solid foundation in the trucking industry.

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