Pennsylvania CDL training is an invaluable resource for drivers applying for a commercial drivers license (CDL). Applicants seek CDL prep because they are required to successfully complete a series of exams in order to receive a CDL. These exams cover an abundance of information, including regulations, safety procedures and driving practices. While not a requirement, enrolling in a CDL school allows applicants to prepare for all of these mandatory tests. It also helps drivers to learn the skills they need to become qualified commercial truck drivers.

The typical PA truck driving school consists of several weeks of coursework. During that time, students are able to learn in a classroom setting as well as out in the field. This allows drivers to experience different situations while out on the road. Many of these programs also offer long-lasting benefits to graduates, including assistance with career placement. As a result, training programs can put students on the fast track into the in-demand industry of commercial driving.

What is CDL training in Pennsylvania?

CDL classes provide training to drivers who are interested in entering the field of commercial truck driving. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the CDL application process involves passing the DOT physical exam as well as several tests.

These exams allow applicants to demonstrate their ability to operate heavy commercial vehicles safely. Each type of commercial vehicle is covered by one of three CDL classifications. As a result, drivers must choose which class of CDL they want to receive training in. Each of the classifications currently available is described below:

  • Class A CDL training is what drivers receive when they plan to drive combination vehicles. These are vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds while towing 10,000 pounds or more.
  • Likewise, Class B CDL training is also used for vehicles that weigh at least 26,001 pounds. However, drivers pursue this classification if they plan to tow less than 10,000 pounds with a vehicle.
  • Class C training covers commercial vehicles that are less than 26,001 pounds.

Is CDL school required in Pennsylvania?

Drivers are not required to pursue formal CDL prep in PA before taking their exams. Enrollment in a CDL training course is entirely voluntary for all prospective commercial drivers. However, PennDOT highly recommends that every driver participates in a course. It is considered one of the most effective ways to prepare for the CDL tests. Moreover, most professional trucking companies prefer to hire drivers who complete this training. Some even offer on-the-job training programs free of charge to new employees.

In order to find success in the commercial trucking industry, it is important for all drivers to consider participating in a qualified training program. Likewise, training can useful for drivers in the process of renewing CDL credentials, as classes provide the most up-to-date practices and information on new laws and regulations.

Curriculum of Pennsylvania CDL Classes

CDL schools are designed to prepare students for each part of the commercial driving exam. As such, most courses are divided into two parts. These parts consist of several hours of in-classroom training and behind-the-wheel instruction. In order to receive a CDL, applicants must pass each portion of the official exam. With this in mind, it is important for drivers to learn what to expect during their training courses.

In-Class Instruction for the CDL Written Test

It is not possible to receive CDL training online because courses provide hands-on instruction as part of the curriculum. As a result, students must attend in-classroom training while covering the CDL written portion of the exam. The CDL written test is divided into multiple parts and covers many of the CDL basics, from regulations and rules to safety procedures and driving techniques, such as PA distracted driving laws.

The first part of the written exam is known as the CDL general knowledge test. Once this portion is complete, drivers must complete an additional exam for the particular classification they want. The Class A exam consists of 70 questions, while the Class B and C test are 50 questions each. Additional exams are also required for different CDL endorsements.

Some programs offer an online CDL test at the end of the course, which is similar to the knowledge exam. Many training companies are also now authorized to administer the official test once a student completes the course. This helps simplify the application process for drivers and encourages them to seek out this optional training.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction for the CDL Driving Test

Like the written test, the driving portion of the CDL test is also made up of three parts. In order to pass, drivers must complete each part of the test before moving on to the next part. Failure to pass the first or second portion of the exam requires drivers to retake the exam at a later date.

Therefore, training programs spend a significant amount of time preparing students for the driving test. This also helps drivers gain valuable experience that they can rely on while out on the roadway. The following components make up the CDL driving exam:

  • The pre-trip vehicle inspection – Applicants must complete a walkthrough inspection to make sure the vehicle is ready for operation.
  • The vehicle parking exercise – Applicants are required to perform several different parking techniques.
  • Off-the-road maneuver test – Applicants must perform basic driving maneuvers, including turns, lane changes and entering intersections.

How long is CDL training in Pennsylvania?

To ensure that drivers get adequate training, truck driving school courses typically take a few weeks to complete. Students are expected to attend several dozen hours of in-classroom instruction as well as behind the wheel. Some CDL courses also allot additional time for drivers to practice the inspection or utilize simulator technology.

In general, most CDL courses last three to four weeks. Companies that offer more comprehensive training may offer five- or six-week classes. For drivers who are currently working, it is often possible to attend classes part-time on weekends or evenings.

Best CDL Schools Near Me in Pennsylvania

“Where can I find a truck driving school near me?” is a common question among CDL applicants. Fortunately, these services are available in many different locations throughout the state. Many are offered through approved third-party companies or technical schools.

The best CDL schools provide more than one type of class, although some specialize in a particular classification. As such, it is important for drivers to choose a school that offers the right training they need. Some of the best CDL schools in PA are listed below:

  • DCS School of Driving is a certified third-party training and testing center. As such, students are able to complete the official test through this program at the end of their courses. DCS offers day and evening Class A CDL training classes with a cap of six students per course, so drivers can get all of the one-on-one help they need.
  • Smith & Solomon CDL School also offers nighttime and weekend classes to students with full-time jobs. In addition, this company works with top industry recruiters to offer job placement services for graduates. Students can choose between Class A, B or C courses with a built-in passenger endorsement.
  • Shelly Truck Driving School is a professional trucking company that provides training services for aspiring truck drivers. It offers students access to a top-of-the-line simulator during their training for additional practice.Shelly also boasts over a 90 percent placement rating for program graduates.
  • Sage Truck Driving Schools provide several different classes for students to choose from, including advanced and refresher courses. At the end of each course, students can access additional career services as well. This includes help with applications, resumes and interview skills.

Benefits of Completing Pennsylvania Truck Driving School

Professional CDL training programs offer an abundance of benefits to drivers who participate. First and foremost, these classes allow students to gain enough experience and knowledge to pass the official written and driving tests at local DMV office locations. However, there are also many career benefits provided by these programs. Drivers are more likely to find CDL jobs after completing a professional training course.

This is because CDL programs often work closely with local trucking companies. At the end of their courses, students can take advantage of CDL job placement assistance to find a position right away. Many training companies guarantee this assistance for a lifetime, meaning graduates can return for additional career support at any time. Other benefits often include tuition assistance and even reimbursement, which helps students afford the costs of enrollment.

CDL Training Costs in Pennsylvania

CDL training program costs often include tuition and registration fees. Due to the extensive training involved, most of these programs have relatively high costs. In order to help students afford their training, some companies offer payment plans. Many are also authorized to accept government grants, such as the GI Bill or Pell Grant. This allows qualified students to receive low-cost or free CDL training in some cases.

Company paid CDL training is also a common practice in this industry. Many trucking businesses will agree to reimburse new employees for the cost of their training. This encourages more drivers to pursue a CDL and enter this career field. Occasionally, it is also possible for students to get paid while training for CDL privileges. Some trucking companies offer their own training programs to new hires to ensure that they receive an appropriate level of training. During this time, these drivers can receive a paycheck while they complete their on-the-job training courses.

How to Self-Prep for Pennsylvania CDL Exams

Additional resources are also available to help drivers prepare for the CDL exams on their own time. Many websites offer a free CDL practice test for this reason. Practice tests typically cover the same information as the official written test.

One benefit of this tool is that drivers can usually take practice exams as many times as needed until they feel prepared. If there are particular topics a driver struggles with, then he or she can craft a CDL study guide using the questions from various practice tests.

The Pennsylvania CDL handbook is another valuable asset for drivers. PennDOT offers this resource for free and issues updates each year. This commercial driver manual is designed to contain all of the information drivers need about obtaining and holding a CDL. This includes the application process, tests and regulations for commercial drivers.

While it is important for drivers to read this manual thoroughly, it is not considered an effective substitute for the hands-on experience earned through training programs. Therefore, it is most beneficial for applicants to utilize the CDL book in conjunction with a training program for the best preparation.

Last updated on Wednesday, May 1 2019.

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