Being a truck driver is a rewarding occupation, especially if your hobby and interest are in this field.
Taking a truck driver training doesn’t take much of your time and effort. But because there are certain certifications and qualifications you need to attain, you need put in some investment.
Much of your resources will be put into taking the training offered by a truck driving school. The truck driving school will teach in everything you need to know to become a truck driver.
If you are unsure where you can take the training in your state, well, we have that prepared for you. We have a list of truck driving schools in every state of the US. We also included their addresses and contact information so that you can easily get in touch with them to make an inquiry. Just click on the state where you are located on the left side or bottom side of the screen.
Since this is a complete guide about truck driver training and on commercial driver’s license (CDL), we also have that guides on CDL prepared for you.
In this section of the website, you learn everything you need to know to get a CDL. We have a step-by-step guide in teaching you to apply for your CDL. We don’t have to tell you that CDL is your most important piece of document you can present to a hiring manager when applying for a job. Without it, your chance of getting employed is small. So take time and put in some money in getting one.
How to Choose the Best Truck Driving Schools?
Now that you have made your final decision of being a truck driver, you need to enroll in a driving school that will educate you.
Choosing the best truck driving school is the biggest decision you will make to elevate your career. If you commit a mistake in enrolling, your education will suffer. The right school will help you develop your skills and knowledge to get you prepared for the job. Here are some of the important factors when choosing the best driving school:
- The driving school must be fully certified and licensed by the authority in order to meet or exceed the training standard set forth by OSHA or by the state authority. One step you can take in choosing a school is to make sure that the courses being offered by the school are PTDI-certified. The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has the reputation for developing higher truck driver training standards.
- Offers job placement after graduation. Only a handful of the schools have the capability of offering a job after a student graduated. Usually, these schools have a large network of employers that hire truck drivers. Having this option will help you eliminate the problem of searching for a job after completing the course. Ask also the school what their job placement success rate is and what companies their graduates are working in.
- Choose the one that has a small group of students per class. Ask the school how many students they accepted in a certain class. It is ideal to have 10 students maximum per truck driving class. The larger the class, the more disadvantageous for you. You will receive quality training if you enroll in a class that has few students.
- The course curriculum the driving school provides must be comprehensive and thorough. The course must consist of classroom instructions and practical training on the road. You will expend much of time doing on-the-road driving to learn the skills of maneuvering, turning, and backing up and other defensive driving techniques. While inside the classroom, you learn the basics of road signs, traffic rules, GPS and reading maps, and other important topics.
- Length of the truck driving training. One thing to consider when choosing the school is the length of the training they offer. Usually, the time it takes to complete a driving course is around 3 to 4 weeks. You cannot be fully educated if you can finish in a short amount of time. Eliminate the school from your list if they offer you a short training period.
- Find a driving school that has flexible payment terms or good discounts. Taking the truck driving course does burn your pocket. It usually cost around $4000 up to $10,000, depending on the comprehensive of the program. That amount will surely put a big hole in your pocket especially if you don’t have a job yet to pay for the tuition. If you could find a school that gives a flexible payment scheme and considerable discount, why not take that option.
- Find a school near where you are. If you can find a truck driving school closest to where you are to cut traveling time to make it convenient for you. But make sure to consider also the other factors above.
Choosing the best school will mold you to become a professional truck driver. If you take note of some of the options we have mentioned, you will off to find a driving school that suits your requirements.
How to Become a Truck Driver?
- The first step in becoming a truck driver is to know what you’re going into. You need to ask yourself if this kind of job you want to do for the long period of time. You’ll be away from your family and on the road most of the time.
- Complete all the requirements. You must at least 21 years old; must have valid driver’s license; be in good physical condition and health, you may undergo DOT physical test to ensure you are fit and able to do job; you also need a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) which is a requirement to apply for commercial driver’s license (CDL) that you need to drive trucks on the road.
- Get educated by enrolling in a course offered by a school, if you don’t have prior experience as a truck driver. You can get a professional training at the school. The driving school will practice you so that you can acquire the knowledge and skill and be able to pass the CDL licensing exams.
- Earn your CDL which is a strict ad important requirement when applying for a driving job. To apply for CDL, you need to determine which vehicle type you are intending to drive and what kind of driving you want to get a license for. Doing so will able you to choose the CDL class you want to apply for. Refer to the below information on how to apply for CDL.
- You may also need to attain other certifications. In order to increase your chance of landing a high-paying job, you may need to get certification such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) test and pass it, the test includes a physical sight and hearing evaluation and a written exam on federal traffic laws.
- Find a job as truck driver. There are many options you can go through in getting a job. You’re in luck if the driving school you took the training from offers job placement. The school can refer their graduates to employers who are looking for individuals like you. The other option you can take to get a job is to network with colleagues; they may refer you to their company they’re working for or know an employer who is hiring.
What to Expect When Enrolling in Truck Driving School?
Good salary offer and long-term employment are the benefits you are longing for why you want to become a professional truck driver. But before you can reap those benefits, you have to go through the rigorous training course at the driving school. What then can you expect from the course?
A typical truck driver training usually takes about at least 4 weeks to complete, depending on the training package you’ve chosen. The training will consist of formal training inside the classroom and practical training on the road.
Everything that you will learn in the driving school will be your preparation in going through the entire process of getting CDL license. The classroom training will help you to prepare for the DMV written CDL test, find out more about the CDL written test here. You are also required to take the DMV behind-the-wheel driving exam also known as the road test, find more information about the exam.
How Much is the School Enrollment?
You already know that you need some sort of professional training in order to get into this kind of job and when someone is looking to start a new occupation as a truck driver, the very first question they want to be answered is how much does enrolment in the school cost.
The tuition cost will depend on some factors such as the state you are in and the school where you want to take the training from.
Normally the tuition costs around $4,000 to $10,000 for the whole training course. Other factors that affect the cost of becoming a truck driver is the CDL that you are required to obtain and the endorsement you want to get included.
While the tuition and the CDL costs are a serious amount of money to spend, you can easily recuperate your investment in just a matter of weeks because truck drivers are well-compensated.
Ways to Pay for Truck Driver Training if You Don’t Have (Yet) the Money
The cost the taking truck driver training and CDL is no joke especially when you don’t have a stable job plus the fact you have a family to feed. Fortunately, there are some ways you can avail to pay for the training. Here some of those:
- Veteran Affairs Education Benefits - If you are a veteran you can avail the Veteran Affairs Education Benefits, if you have further questions and details you want to get answered regarding the application, you can contact their customer service at 888-442-4551 or visit their website at www.benefits.va.gov.
- Federal Student Aid – there are several options you can avail if you want to avail a student aid: scholarship, grants and loans, are the ones applicable when you want to take driver training. You can fill out the Free Application for the Federal Student Aid, by visiting this page. For more info, visit their website fafsa.ed.gov
- Company Sponsored - If you get employed as a truck driver prior to taking the initial and CDL training, your employer may be able to assist you to pay for the cost. If this is the case, you have to sign an employment contract for a certain period with the employer.
- Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA Grant) – If you were displaced from your job and you want to get into a new career, you may avail the TAA grant which is sponsored by the US Department of Labor. For more specific info on how to avail this, you can check out this page.
What CDL Class to Get?
Driving a commercial vehicle professionally is an excellent option for people who want to make easy money. But to drive those types of vehicles legally, you need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are several CDL classes you can apply for:
- The Class A CDL Class – This is for combination vehicle (tractor + trailer) of 26,000 pounds. Eg: split bus. This class is specifically for those drivers who have no prior experience and new entrants to the field of truck driving. Obviously, this class usually takes a longer time to take. You will need to attend the training for about 3 to 6 weeks. You will spend 160 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training. But most of your training time will be spent on the practicing and practical training. The Class A CDL will enable you to work as an entry-level truck driver.
- The Class B CDL Class – if you are a holder of Class B CDL Class you are allowed to any drive single (straight) motor vehicle over 26,001 pounds. Eg: articulated buses. This class also includes a combination vehicle for commercial use weighing less than 26,000 pounds.
- The Class C CDL Class – holders of Class C CDL are allowed to drive vehicles that do not belong to the Class A and B. This Class C CDL will permit you to transport hazardous goods and materials.
- Refresher Training – this for those drivers who had previous CDL or have current CDL and want to go back to work as a professional truck driver.
Corresponding endorsements are available to apply for after you are successful in passing the CDL exams. You have the chance to apply for the endorsements such as for air brakes, combination vehicle, tankers, doubles/triples, and hazmat endorsement.
Getting Your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
If you don’t have prior commercial driver’s license issued to you in the past and it is your first time to apply for one, you will need a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) first. The CLP allows the holder to do driving practice in a commercial vehicle on the highway.
You can apply for CLP in the local DMV office in your area. This means that the requirements and the process may a little bit different and vary from state to state. If you want to visit the DMV website of the state you are in, follow this link.
The CLP can be a valid CDL for the intention practice driving on the public road and only if it meets these situations:
- Just like truck driver training, the CLP can only be issued to you if you pass the written exam for the type of commercial motor vehicle you are intending to operate.
- If the CLP holder has a valid driver’s license issued in the same state that issued the CLP.
- You can only drive the commercial vehicle if you have someone, who has a CDL for the type of vehicle being driven, sitting beside you and observing your driving performance.
- The holder needs to be at least 18 years old.
- There should be a corresponding endorsement with the CLP, such endorsements are: Passenger (P), school bus (S), tank vehicle (N). In order to get the corresponding endorsement for the type of vehicle you are planning to operate, you need take and passed the written exam.
- If the CLP holder does not transport hazardous materials.
The CLP is valid for 180 days from the date of issuance. The CLP holder is not allowed to take CDL licensing skill test for the first 2 weeks after the issuance of the CLP.
Here are the requirements for the application of CLP:
- Your social security number
- Your current driver’s license
- Proof of legal name and date of birth
- Proof of citizenship – you must be a resident of the state where you are applying the CLP
- You must have with you your DOT medical card, you can have this after passing the DOT physical test. If you don’t have this yet, you can apply for DOT physical test here.
- Completely filled up Application Form. You can download the form from your local DMV website.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Application Requirements
- State-issued driver’s license and social security card as your proof of identification when applying for CDL.
- Your driving record for the last 10 years. You can request your driving record at your state DMV. This is just a printout from the system showing your good record for that period of time.
- Proof of residency or citizenship. You may need to submit proofs or documents for verification.
- DOT medical card. You can get this if you’ve undergone a physical test. You can apply for a DOT physical test here.
- Transportation Security Administration (PSA) background check. If you are going to transport hazardous goods and materials, you need to pass a PSA background check. This is one of the requirements you will need when applying for CDL. Click here to know more.
- Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). It is some sort of permit allowing you to practice diving in a commercial vehicle on public road granting you have someone sitting with you who is a CDL holder. If you don’t have a CLP, you can visit your state DMV.
- Passing grades for the knowledge and skills tests. You can make an appointment in your state DMV to take these two tests. You can visit your state DMV website to download the application form and to know more about specific information in taking the tests.
Application Process of CDL License
In order to become a truck driver and be able to drive a commercial vehicle, you need to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) which you need to apply in the Department of Motor Vehicle in the state or area you are located.
Here’s what you need to do:
- If it is your first in applying for CDL, you need to have commercial learner’s permit (CLP) with you, please read the above info in obtaining one.
- You also need to make sure you have the complete requirements for the CDL application so that you won’t waste your time and effort in the application. The requirements for the CDL vary from state to state, so it is better to visit the DMV website of your state you want to apply in to know more about the specific requirements.
- Get your state’s DMV driver handbook. The handbook contains the topics and subjects of the test you are going to take. You can download an updated copy of the handbook from here.
- You need to choose the type of endorsement you want for your CDL. The endorsements you can apply for are: air brakes, combination vehicle, tankers, doubles/triples, and hazmat. If you apply for hazmat, a background check has to be performed to you before it can be added to your CDL.
- Book for the written and skills test. You must make an appointment for taking the tests. Just select a schedule that is most convenient for you. Some DMV offices have an option of online appointment. Check with your local DMV about the other requirements and processing since they vary from office to office.
- You need to take and pass the written and skills tests. The skills test has three parts this includes the pre-trip inspection, basic control, and the road driving test. The skill test can be taken at the training school, at the DMV testing site, or at a location approved by the state.
Obtaining a CDL should be your utmost importance if you want to become a truck driver. It is your key to enter this rewarding profession.
This is where the driving school comes in. They can teach you everything and I mean everything you need to know in passing the CDL exams. Many individuals have attempted to apply for CDL only to find out that it is much more difficult doing it by themselves. By getting professional training, you will undergo the formal training to help you prepare to pass the written exam and the hands-on training to make it easy passing the practical or skills test.
Parts of the CDL Exams
- General Knowledge – the general knowledge test is comprised of 100 questions. The number of items or questions will depend on the DMV of the state you are taking the test. You have to answer correctly at least 80% of the questions in order to pass.
- Backing Maneuvering – Perform the straight back and offset park and do parallel park or alley dock are the maneuverings you’re going to do when you taking this test.
- Air Brake Section – some people consider this as the hardest part of the test that’s why examinees fail this test. To pass this, you have to familiarize and memorize the Section 5 of the DMV handbook. The air brake portion is part of the written test.
- Pre-Trip Inspection – well this is the part you have to physically inspect the condition of the truck, hence its name. Since the pre-trip inspection doesn’t change, you can easily learn this.
- Skills Test or Road Test – This is the final part of the CDL test. You have show your ability in driving the truck on the public road, the instructor will evaluate your performance. Since road test topics vary from state to state, the only thing we can say to you is to know the current highway and traffic regulations in the state you are taking the road test.
Again, the process and specifics in taking the CDL training and administering the tests differ from one DMV office to another. Better check with your state or local DMV office about more details.
Tips in Passing the CDL Tests
There is no secret in passing the CDL tests. Just study and learn everything you need to know. There are training materials you can use. The more you get used to the exams, the bigger your chance of passing. You can study in several ways:
- Study the DMV handbook. Study the general knowledge section, air brake section, and the combination vehicle section. These are the most important of the test you are going to take, so make sure you browse through those sections in the book. You can download a softcopy of the DMV handbook online. You get it and download from here, choose the state you’re in. Make sure you read the handbook from the beginning until the end. Thoroughly understand every section of the book.
- Download an App on your phone to help you study. Go to Google Playstore and search for a CDL application you want to download. I find this application most helpful since it is the latest and recent. See the application here. The app is a mock exam and will tell you the correct answers.
- Take an online CDL practice exam. If this is your first time taking the test, you can take this online test to acquaint yourself with the questionnaires on the CDL test. Doing so will be able you to evaluate your strength and weaknesses. Visit this link to take this online practice test.
- Buy an online study guide. Here are the training materials we recommend you can buy on Amazon: CDL Exam Flashcard Study System:
- CDL Test Practice Questions & Review for the Commercial Driver's License Exam (Cards) by CDL Exam Secrets Test Prep Team (2013-02-14)
- CDL Exam Secrets - Hazardous Materials Endorsement Study Guide: CDL Test Review for the Commercial Driver's License Exam
- Mooney CDL Training DVD Video Course for Commercial Driver License Road Test Including Pre Trip Inspection, Driving, Backing for CDL Driving or Practical Exam.
- CDL Test Practice Questions & Review for the Commercial Driver's License Exam (Cards) by CDL Exam Secrets Test Prep Team (2013-02-14)
Just a piece of advice when you’re taking the exam stay calm and keep focus. Many people failed because they over think and they let their fear get into their mind. We all know that you feel the pressure, just don’t let pressure take your emotion, you will think irrationally, the ultimate consequence is you will fail the test.
To Make a Conclusion
Take control of your future. Choosing a profession as a truck driver is a rewarding one. You won’t be running out of job opportunities as the industry will continue to grow.
This is due to the high number of retiring truck drivers in the country; the demand for truck drivers has increased exponentially. The other factor that comes into play is the boom of the logistics industry, the large volume of customers’ freight has to be moved and delivered from place to place.
The demand for talented truck drivers like you has increased and will continue to increase in the next coming years. It is time to get into this gratifying profession.
Go enroll in truck driving school and take your CDL training.