You should consider attending CDL training in your state if you want to earn your commercial drivers license (CDL). In many states, you are not required to complete CDL prep to take the required exams with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or similar authority. However, enrolling in a CDL school is a helpful way to ensure you know the material that will be covered in the knowledge exams. Additionally, the assistance of one-on-one hands-on instruction when practicing the operation of commercial vehicles is crucial to passing the road test. By enlisting the help of an instructor through classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction, you can feel more confident, capable and prepared for the exams you must pass to obtain your CDL at one of the local DMV office locations.

Before choosing a truck driving school, it is important to know what CDL class license you need to obtain to drive the specific type of commercial vehicle you have in mind. You should find several schools and classes in your area that specialize in educating you on operating commercial vehicles, such as buses or semi-trucks. Locating the best schools that specialize in the vehicle you need to learn to drive is important to advancing your commercial driving career. To find out more about CDL classes and how they can help you obtain your CDL quickly, review the following information.

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What is CDL training?

It is important to note that there are different types of training for a CDL license, including Class A CDL training, which prepares you for driving a truck trailer or tractor-semi-trailer combination weighing more than 26,000 pounds and towing a vehicle that is more than 10,000 pounds. If you sign up for a CDL course that is focused on allowing you to obtain your Class A CDL, then you will learn more about how to operate these types of vehicles safely and how to become a successful truck driver. This type of training will cover:

  • Completing turns and backing up the vehicle.
  • Driving in urban areas.
  • Parking.
  • Completing log books and accident reports.

If you are looking for Class B CDL training, then keep in mind, once you earn your Class B license, you can drive a commercial vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds but that is not towing another vehicle or is towing a vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds.

You may also need CDL prep classes that prepare you to earn your Class C CDL. With this type of license, you can drive a commercial vehicle that weighs less than 26,000 pounds. You may also need to earn additional endorsements so you can legally operate a vehicle that transports passengers or that hauls hazardous materials. You should identify the license class and potential endorsement you need and the exams you must take in your state to earn it before signing up for a course in your area or applying for a CDL.

Is CDL school required?

In some states, CDL training is mandatory and must be completed before you are allowed to sign up to take the required DMV exams to earn your commercial license. Certain states do not require you to complete CDL classes until after you have earned your commercial learner’s permit (CLP) but before making an appointment with the DMV to complete the road test for your CDL.

In some states, you are not required to complete these CDL classes to earn your CDL, but you may be required to complete specific courses before you can earn an endorsement for your license, such as a school bus or hazmat endorsement. It is important to review your state’s laws pertaining to CDL school to find out if it is mandatory for you to complete a class before taking the DMV exams.

Curriculum of CDL Classes

CDL classes may have a different curriculum that they follow depending on the type of license or endorsement you need to earn and the extensiveness of the course you choose. Generally, most classes include in-class instruction and behind-the-wheel training to ensure you are prepared for your state’s DMV exams.

In-Class Instruction for the CDL Written Test

You may be able to find CDL training online to prepare you for the knowledge exam you are required to take for your CLP. Since most classes offer lectures and in-class instruction to review your state’s commercial driver handbook, it may be possible to complete this portion of the course online.

Whether offered online or in person, this portion of the course is designed to get you ready for the CDL written test, which should include information from your state’s handbook, including:

  • Road laws.
  • What to do in emergency situations.
  • Reading road signs.

The information covered in the CDL class you sign up for may vary depending on the CDL license class or endorsements you plan to obtain.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction for the CDL Driving Test

If you are required to complete a class before taking the CDL test, then be sure you complete a course that is approved by your DMV or similar authority. During the behind-the-wheel instruction portion of the class, you will receive one-on-one instruction and experience with a commercial driver who will go over the tasks you must perform on the test. During the CDL driving test, you may be required to:

  • Complete a pre-trip vehicle inspection.
  • Maneuver turns in tight spaces.
  • Park the vehicle.
  • Change lanes while driving on the highway.
  • Operate the vehicle in an urban environment.

With hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, your CDL course should help you to feel comfortable and confident when operating the commercial vehicle.

How long is CDL training?

Truck driving school can vary in course length, so it is important to review the class schedule before signing up to ensure it works for you. Generally, these courses last four to eight weeks depending on when the classes are held. If your DMV requires you to complete a CDL class before taking the exams for your license, then make sure you choose a course with the curriculum and length that is accepted by the department before signing up.

Best CDL Schools Near Me

Before you begin to search for a “truck driving school near me” online, you should first review your state’s requirements for earning your CDL. In some states, you must attend a CDL school that is approved by your DMV or similar authority before you earn the right to take the exams to obtain your CDL. Some of these educational programs include the required exams at the end of the class, making it easy for you to complete the course and earn your license right away.

If your state does not require training to take the exams, then you can look for a “CDL school near me” online or through other resources. You should find a school that:

  • Offers courses specializing in your license class or the endorsements you need.
  • Includes courses that cater to your schedule.
  • Has a good reputation and positive student reviews.
  • Maintains a satisfactory graduation and success rate.

When locating the best CDL schools in your area, you should also look into other services the school provides, such as job placement assistance and financial aid options. However, you should be aware that training cost may differ from licensing cost, such as the expense for the mandatory DOT physical exam for CDL credentials.

Benefits of Completing Truck Driving School

Many schools can help you locate CDL jobs once you have graduated and earned your license. These establishments can provide you with CDL job placement assistance so you can begin working right away since they have relationships with local commercial driving employers.

These potential employers may have more confidence in CDL holders who have completed CDL school because they have received a thorough education on safely operating commercial vehicles. Additionally, these classes can help get students ready for their careers since they cover important real-world topics, such as documenting driving time and accident reports.

CDL Training Costs

The CDL training cost for the course you choose may vary, depending on its length and the extent of the content covered. Some courses also include all DMV testing fees and allow you to utilize a commercial vehicle to complete the tests. In most cases, a Class A CDL course costs around $3,000 to $6,000 to complete.

Your employer or potential employer may offer paid CDL training if your job is related to commercial driving. However, if you do not qualify for this paid training, then keep in mind that most schools offer financing options, such as grants, loans and payment plans.

How to Self-Prep for CDL Exams

You should consider looking for a CDL practice test online or through your local DMV if you want to self-prep for your CDL exams. It is also important to find a useful CDL study guide related to your state’s commercial drivers manual or handbook to help you study for your exams. Learn more about the topics that will be covered in the knowledge exams and the tasks you will be asked to perform during your skills exam so you can better prepare for these tests.

Last updated on Friday, March 15 2019.

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