A resource for iowa CDL drivers, with trucking schools, application information, and more.

Iowa CDL drivers education information. Trucking schools, colleges, how to apply and more explained here.

For commercial vehicles, like a truck, tractor-trailer, or school bus, a commercial drivers license is necessary. CDL school are not mandatory in Iowa to obtain a CDL. Although not technically mandatory, commercial driver’s education is really necessary to get the knowledge and experience that you need to have in order to get a CDL and to drive a commercial vehicle successfully.


Federal regulations for commercial driving are identical for all states in the US. The regulations are laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and are designed for the safety of the drivers and that of the general public.


The state of Iowa requires you to successfully complete certain tests to obtain your CDL before you can legally drive a commercial vehicle. These tests depend on the type of CDL and the amount and type of endorsements on it. You will need to perform written knowledge, air brake inspection, and road, tests. Apart from these driver exams, the test vehicle also has to undergo inspection of the examiner. See here for the testing and application requirements for getting a CDL.

Iowa has also adopted the U.S. Division of Motor Vehicles Hazardous Materials Regulations which incorporates the mandatory training and testing of commercial drivers who transport hazardous materials.

For school bus driving you require a special school bus endorsement on your CDL that authorizes driving 15 people or more apart from themselves. The school bus endorsement requires drivers to clear a special knowledge test based on driving safety, passengers and school buses. The knowledge test must also include an air brakes section if there are air brakes on the school bus. The driver must also clear the skills test required to drive the school bus.


The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) certifies truck driving courses across the US. They set standards that programs may opt to adhere to, which indicates their program meets the criteria set out by PTDI. The criteria is based on driving skills taught, theoretical knowledge, and curriculum.

There are three types of training schools for truck driving:

  1. Private schools – privately owned companies aimed at training people to join the truck driving industry. They are usually high quality.
  2. Public schools – government run programs through colleges or institutes, usually at a subsidized cost.
  3. The third type is on the job training offered by carriers themselves with an aim to get the trainees to work for them. These training programs are usually not the best and only impart enough knowledge and skills to get a CDL.

The PTDI standard curriculum outlines what is required for certification under their standards, and provides other info and basic training for CDL drivers.


You can pick a good school on the basis of the information that you receive from the school catalogue or brochure. Most decent school will present everything that is offered from the course, in the booklet. The catalogue should inform you about:

  • how the program is involved with truck driving (how it helps with licensing and recruitment).
  • the facilities it offers and the codes of conduct that it follows.
  • the courses that are offered and the process for admission to the school.
  • the cost of the course as well as costs associated with getting the CDL.
  • the refund policy in the event that you drop out of the course or are asked to leave.
  • what the evaluation method is, i.e. grading, graduation.


The length of commercial education courses given by various school is different as there are no set standards for the same. A good program will state the duration in details on their brochure, clearly displaying how many hours would be spent in actual driving and how many in the class. The training given behind the wheel is the most practical part of this training program. As per PTDI standards, each student should get at least 44 hours of actual driving experience and 104 hours of classroom and laboratory training to be able to drive a truck safely and competently. Any course which comes close to this standard is a good course and is worth enrolling for.
As per expert opinions, to be able to drive a truck safely, it is important for the trainee to complete at least 4-6 weeks of training, with classes everyday. Good schools have longer courses to enable students to get more personal attention and more driving experience behind the wheels, rather than observing other students driving.


In most cases, schools will award a certificate or diploma upon completion of the course. When carriers and trucking companies hire new drivers, they almost always prefer students who have such a certificate/diploma since that is proof of the students having completed the basic hours of training. This proof is also required by their insurance providers as part of the new hire processes. Training programs offered by motor carriers do not offer such a diploma or certificate and that training cannot be used as proof of completing the program during recruitment. Hence, students from these schools have to take positions with the motor carriers themselves.
Good schools help their students to find employment at the end of their training program. They will have placement services on campus which arrange recruiting events with prospective employers to come and make presentations to the students and interview them.
Placement rates are shown by some programs detailing what the rate of employment is for graduates upon completion of the course. They aim to increase these rates through interview and resume prep and networking. Some programs offer lifetime placement assistance.


  • Since training schools are evaluated on the basis of their placement rates, it is important to complete a commercial driver’s education program from a good school before you apply for a CDL. This ensures that you become a safe driver and are also able to get a good job.
  • See CDL Basics
Last updated on Monday, February 4 2019.

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