Montana CDL training is a good idea when applying for a commercial drivers license (CDL). Administered through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), this license is essential in becoming a specialized truck driver and can lead to many high-paying CDL job opportunities. Before obtaining your license, you must first get your commercial learner’s permit (CDP).

A CDL school can help with the required series of written exams for the CDL classification and any additional endorsements. After receiving this permit, you will need to adequately prepare for a driving skills test. Although not state required, completing a CDL prep course before taking your CDL tests can guarantee a passing score. Additionally, it will improve your chances at landing a job that requires the completion of some formal training. Many CDL classes offer both in-class instruction for the written test and behind-the-wheel instruction for the driving test. To learn more about your options, read the following sections below.

What is CDL training in Montana?

A CDL school in Montana provides those looking to obtain their CDL license with the knowledge and hands-on training needed to properly and safely operate a truck. It is much more advanced than the standard driver’s education courses available for new inexperienced drivers.

In truck driving school, students learn advanced truck driving techniques, such as skid avoidance and hydroplaning. Additionally, students receive hands-on experience with map reading, detecting and identifying maintenance problems and maneuvering an industry trailer.

Depending on the type of license you are trying to obtain, there are three different types of Montana CDL training courses. You can complete training for a Class A, Class B or Class C CDL license. Each course reviews the following:

  • Students in a Class A CDL training course learn how to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. This can include a towed vehicle with a GCWR larger than 10,000 lbs. This course is the most common CDL prep class in Montana and is best suited for those applying for jobs that drive tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, livestock carriers, flatbeds and tanker vehicles. Moreover, license holders can drive all vehicles under Class B, C or D by obtaining a Class A CDL.
  • A Class B CDL training course is best fitted for those interested in becoming commercial or school bus drivers. Those who complete this course and move on to obtain their Class B CDL may operate a vehicle with a GCWR of 26,000 pounds or heavier and/or a vehicle no greater than 10,000 pounds. These vehicles typically include straight trucks, box trucks, city buses or any vehicle that can hold up to 24 passengers. A Class B license holder can maneuver all vehicles under Class C or D.
  • You should enroll in a Class C CDL training course if you are planning to drive a vehicle that does not meet any of the above criteria and is meant to transfer at least 16 passengers or hazardous materials. This vehicle must be less than 26,0001 pounds. Otherwise, you will have to complete one of the above courses instead.

Is CDL school required in Montana?

You are not required to attend truck driving school in Montana to obtain a CDL license of any class. However, a course does improve your chances of passing all the written exams required to obtain a CDP.

Once you have your CDP, you may only get behind the wheel of a truck with the supervision of a CDL holder. After 14 days have passed, you will be able to take the CDL roads test and obtain your license.

In order to get the experience needed to pass, a CDL prep course is necessary because it allows you to drive alongside a qualified instructor.

Curriculum of Montana CDL Classes

The topics your CDL school in Montana will cover will depend on the school and the type of CDL class license and endorsements you need to earn.

While some CDL classes are more in-depth than others, you will generally learn about important safety precautions and different driving techniques to gain the confidence needed to get behind the wheel of a large truck. Likewise, courses should cover the local regulations and distracted driving laws.

In-Class Instruction for the CDL Written Test

Unfortunately, CDL training online is not offered in Montana because schools require both in-class and hands-on training. In class, you will learn all the necessary information needed to pass the CDL general knowledge test.

This information will typically cover the basics of truck driving, including safety procedures, federal and state regulations, airbrake systems, map reading, trip report procedures and loading and securing a vehicle. You will learn proper signals on the road and how to properly maneuver a large weight load.

More advanced information will depend on the type of class license and endorsements you are obtaining. You may learn the rules of transporting hazardous materials or how to transport a group of 16 passengers.

Once you have completed the classroom instruction portion, you will be fully equipped to take the online CDL test in Montana. Being accustomed to a classroom atmosphere and exposed to a variety of CDL permit test questions will ultimately prepare you for the CDL written test.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction for the CDL Driving Test

Once you have received your CDL permit through MT truck driving school, you will need to prepare for the CDL driving test. This requires getting behind the wheel with a qualified, trained instructor and actively practicing essential maneuvers.

Many schools offer one-on-one guidance with a licensed professional so that you can be properly evaluated and receive the instruction needed to fine-tune and improve your road skills.

To pass the CDL test in Montana, you must be fully capable of safely handling a large vehicle of up to 26,000 pounds. The exam will require that you pass three sections: pre-trip vehicle inspection, basic control skills and the on-road driving test.

Through behind-the-wheel instruction, you will learn skills, such as the following:

  • Pre-inspecting and identifying different parts of a vehicle
  • Using vehicle controls
  • Appropriately starting, stopping and parking
  • Entering and exiting an expressway
  • Coupling and uncoupling a trailer
  • Properly straight line and offset backing
  • 90-degree alley docking
  • Bridge and underpass clearance

How long is CDL training in Montana?

The time it takes to complete CDL school in Montana will vary based on the Class license and endorsements you obtain. You can typically complete a comprehensive Class A CDL training program over a span of four to six weeks.

If you are obtaining a special endorsement, then it may add an additional two to three weeks. While the class-instruction generally consists of 150 hours, you may receive an additional 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Make sure to check with the director or facilitator of school admissions to find out the exact term length and schedule availability of its program.

Best CDL Schools Near Me in Montana

If you are wondering, “Where is there a CDL school near me?” then there are just a few located in Montana. When deciding between CDL prep schools, you must choose one that offers the appropriate licensing and endorsement program needed to take off in your truck driving career.

Additionally, it is important to find a reputable school while still considering financing and tuition costs. Although the MVD does not provide school recommendations, the best CDL schools in Montana include:

  • Sage Truck Driving School. Located in Billings, MT, Sage offers both Class A and Class B CDL training programs, great financing options, job placement assistance and special programs for veterans. Not only do these programs provide in-class instruction, but you may also receive private, one-on-one training from an experienced instructor. Additionally, Sade Truck Driving School aims to get you pre-hired with a national, regional or local trucking company before you even start the program. If you search “truck driving school near me”, then you may discover a location in Missoula. However, be aware that this school is no longer operating.
  • Flathead Valley Community College Truck Driver Training Program. This Montana CDL training program offers programs for both Class A and B CDL licenses, as well as a variety of endorsements. You may complete the basic CDL prep course over a four week period or you can enroll in the professional truck driving course to receive an array of endorsements, including hazmat, school bus, passenger and tanker endorsements. Additionally, there are transitionary courses offered for those who have a B license and would like to obtain an A. These CDL classes consist of an electronic simulator, classroom instruction and on-the-road experience. Tuition and estimated equipment fees vary on the course.
  • Miles Community College. If you are in need of a basic CDL course for a Class A license, then Miles Community College offers a six-week course that includes classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel CDL training. Additionally, the course consists of hands-on trip planning. The cost of this course depends on your residency status and the semester you plan on completing the course. The program offers additional tools, such as a CDL job opportunity database and CDL practice tests.
  • Career Transitions. This CDL school in Montana provides up to 19 hours of driving instruction and practice with a licensed instructor. This course is available for those who already have their CDL permit and need behind the wheel experience. These students will learn how to perform pre-trip inspections and fill out log books. They will learn key driving skills, such as shifting gears, backing into a dock and making a turn at a 90 degree. Additionally, there are more advanced programs offered at reduced tuition for experienced drivers looking to boost their resumes or brush up on their skills before renewing CDL credentials. Qualifying staff members will advise students in creating effective resumes and obtaining a job.

Benefits of Completing Montana Truck Driving School

Although CDL training in Montana is not state required, there are many reasons as to why you should consider enrolling in a school.

Many employers will require that you complete formal training to qualify for a truck driving position. In fact, if you are looking for low-cost or free CDL training, then check out employers that will offer to cover the costs of tuition up front or reimburse you after you have completed a course.

Many schools offer job placement assistance and networking opportunities to expose you to a variety of commercial driving companies and CDL jobs.

There are even schools that offer CDL job placement before you begin training. Regardless of whether a school provides this assistance, completing a class will boost your resume and set you apart from other job applicants. Not to mention, it will allow you to pass your CDL exams on the first attempt, allowing you to enter the truck driving industry quickly.

CDL Training Costs in Montana

You may be wondering about CDL training cost in Montana. Not only will costs vary by school and program, but the cost of your training can also depend on whether it is company paid CDL training.

There are many trucking companies that pay for CDL training in Montana. In fact, Sage Truck Driving School can put you in contact with these employers. While some may cover the costs of training upfront, others will reimburse you once you have completed the program.

Tuition costs for a basic CDL course or Class A training typically range between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on whether you need additional endorsements. If you are receiving training at a community college, then tuition may also vary depending on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student.

How to Self-Prep for Montana CDL Exams

Whether or not you choose to attend a CDL school, you will need to study and retain the information needed to pass your CDL exams. Thankfully, there are a number of CDL practice tests available online that mirror questions on the actual test.

You can find them through a training school or a third-party website. If you need to improve your on-road driving skills, then you may be limited to a training program with a licensed instructor.

Montana’s MVD only allows you to get behind the wheel of a truck while being accompanied by a CDL license holder. If you know someone with a license, then ask if he or she can accompany you.

In addition to a free CDL practice test online, you may benefit from reading over the CDL handbook provided by the MVD. It offers valuable information regarding the written test, road skills test, adding additional endorsements and any physical qualifications you must meet prior.

Last updated on Friday, February 28 2020.