How Much Does CDL Training Cost?
Below is a list of top 7 CDL training companies, including their cost of training and hours of instruction:
|CDL School Name||Average cost||Overall length of training||Hours of total instruction||Hours of classroom instruction|
|Advanced Technology Institute||$2,200||8 weeks||160||72|
|CDS Tractor-Trailer Training||$3,900-$4,500||4 weeks||160||40|
|Hamrick School||$1,500-$11,000||6 weeks||244||80|
|HDS Truck Driving Institute||$6,995||4 weeks||?||?|
|Midwest Technical Institute||$6,000-$15,000||20 weeks||600||300|
|Phoenix Truck Driving Institute||$1,000-$5,000||4 weeks||160||?|
|Southern Careers Institute||$4,350+||4-6 weeks||160||50|
The CDL training and preparation for the exam is anywhere between 19-24 days, on average, and includes 30-80 hours of in-class training (minimum), which is anywhere from 2 to 3.5 hrs per day. As you can tell, CDL training is very intensive and should be taken seriously.
Do Companies Pay For CDL Training?
Some companies offer to pay for one’s CDL training (while others offer sign-on bonuses for experienced truckers). In that regard, the company invests in an individual and takes a certain risk, since:
- the individual is an inexperienced driver (and the insurance premiums due to risk of incidents and property damage are much higher),
- they have to “develop” the driver (which takes time)
- they might not stay in the program or decide that trucking (or that specific company) is not a good fit for them.
The company requires that the driver who receives a scholarship drives for that company for a specified amount of time in return. If the driver changes their mind, they usually have to repay the CDL training fees. However, the company still takes a risk as they lose time invested into that driver and have to start over.
With the increasing CDL driver shortage, companies scramble to find and retain quality talent and have lowered their stringent hiring requirements (i.e. being more open to people who are switching careers to trucking), as well as offering generous sign-on bonuses or CDL training scholarships.
When you pay for the CDL training yourself, you might have a sense of pride and ownership in the process and take it more seriously, as opposed to having someone else pay for it. In addition, you come in as a stronger candidate and are free to choose from different trucking companies to find one that matches your personal and professional goals. You might also be able to get a generous sign-on bonus, since you are ready to go.
However, with the CDL training being somewhat expensive and time-consuming, many individuals who are switching careers and choose trucking might not have the resources to commit to the licensing financially. The trucking companies make it more attainable for individuals in that category to “go for it”.
With the company contract commitment, the student then learns the specific company culture and hopefully likes it and stays with that company for an extended time beyond their required contract terms. By the time their training contract expires, they will be more experienced and in a higher pay bracket, as well.
How To Qualify For Free CDL Training
In order to become a truck driver, you must meet specific requirements, as well as complete CDL school to get your CDL license:
Below is the entire process, along with the requirements needed in order to obtain a CDL license:
Make sure that you are old enough. Many states require a minimum age of 18, although many CDL driving schools want their drivers to be at least 21 years old. This is to ensure that the young driver ideally has some on-the-road experience already, which also helps lower the risk of rookie mistakes and lowers the insurance premiums, as well.
Get a CLP (Commercial Learner’s Permit). This is just like the regular driver’s permit process: it’s a temporary document to use while in training, as an intermediary step toward your CDL. This step depends largely on the CDL school you choose to attend. Some schools require a CLP prior to enrollment, some help you obtain one after enrollment as part of their process.
Enroll with a CDL school and complete their program. These vary by school, but usually last anywhere from 19-24 days, depending on your skill set and ability to pass the exams successfully. At minimum, the school offers 160 hours of instruction and the course costs anywhere from $3,000-$10,000, depending on school and courses included. These fees cover some of the following:
- CDL application fees
- Road test fees
- CDL skills test fees
- The license itself (Class A, B, C, etc.)
- Additional endorsements (e.g. hazmat, doubles, etc.).
Some trucking companies pay for the school if you sign up to drive for them for a specific amount of time.
Pass a knowledge exam and a skills test. The knowledge exam can be taken online and is much like the driver’s test exam for your driver’s license. The skills test consists of three components:
- Vehicle inspection
- Basic controls
- Road test.
Provide the necessary documentation. These vary by state, so check with the state you are getting licensed in, but they usually include a combination of the following documents to prove your identity:
- Valid non-commercial driver’s license
- Social Security card or Social Security number
- Birth certificate or valid U.S. passport
- Permanent resident card (if you are not an American citizen).
Pass a background check and a medical exam. This is important to ensure the driver does not provide safety hazards to the trucking company or the overall populace while they are on the road. The medical exam requirements are dictated by the DOT and provide an industry standard for all CDL license holders.
Professions like trucking are physically very demanding and stressful on the body, and that’s why it’s important that one is physically capable and able to operate the vehicle in a safe manner for extended periods of time.
Check your state and CDL school for any additional requirements that might be in place. Some states have felony restrictions or other restrictions when it comes to obtaining a CDL license. Make sure you check with the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to ensure that you meet all state requirements. You will have to pay approx. $85 at the DMV for the actual license, as well (although fees vary by state and location).
Apply at trucking companies that are actively recruiting and match your pay expectations, as well as your work-life balance goals. Since there is a shortage of CDL drivers, many companies offer hire-on bonuses, very generous perks and benefits, weekends off or CDL sponsorship/internship.
This means that they agree to pay for your CDL school if you sign on to drive for them a specified amount of time.
Best Trucking Companies That Pay For CDL Training
The top companies that train or pay for CDL school are:
- Swift Transportation
- Knight Transportation
- PGT Trucking
Devon P. has been driving for Swift for 4 years. The company is a good fit for newbies and offers up to 5 raises in the first year, based on performance. While some mention that their CDL school has a high student-instructor ratio and is very fast-paced, Devon enjoyed his experience there:
“”Trucking wasn’t something I had ever known before. The opportunity came to become a driver, I applied for Swift and they accepted me into the academy. I felt like I learned so fast while I was there thanks to the instructors. It was a pretty amazing experience.” (Source: https://www.swifttrans.com/truck-driving-school/training)
What are the best CDL companies to work for?
Based on several surveys, these are the top companies to drive for:
- United Parcel Service (UPS)
- Landstar System
- Old Dominion Freight Line
- B. Hunt
- Yellow Corp
- XPO Logistics.
What is the cheapest way to get a CDL?
While there are some affordable CDL schools to choose from, some trucking companies offer to pay for the CDL school and license if the driver agrees to drive for them for a specified amount of time. Other companies offer paid internships etc.
How do you get a CDL with no experience?
To do really well in CDL class, it helps to have a natural aptitude for truck driving, to be a quick learner, self-disciplined, alert, have good work ethic, be responsible, and to have a good driving record, as well as a good credit report. One can offer to drive on a trial basis (probation) to demonstrate their responsible driving and to let the company allow them to prove themselves over 3-6 months.