South Dakota CDL training provides the skills and experience needed to complete the CDL exams and become a successful commercial driver. Local drivers are encouraged to enroll in CDL school before applying for a commercial drivers license (CDL) in order to prepare. Classes cover the many rules and regulations for commercial drivers established by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) as well as safe driving practices and basic vehicle operation.

Enrollment in SD truck driving school also has significant career benefits as well. Drivers who pursue formal training are more likely to find success on the job hunt. Many top trucking companies work closely with training programs to hire recent graduates. Career placement services are also often available at these facilities. Overall, completing a CDL course is one of the best decisions an aspiring commercial driver can make to begin his or her career.

What is CDL training in South Dakota?

The purpose of CDL classes in SD is to help drivers gain the knowledge and skills they need to obtain a CDL. To verify their skills, the DPS requires all applicants to pass a series of written and driving exams, collectively known as the CDL exam. CDL prep courses are available for each of the types of CDLs offered, including:

  • Class A. Applicants pursue Class A CDL training in order to operate combination vehicles. This is made up of a truck towing more than 10,000 pounds with a total combined weight of at least 26,001 pounds.
  • Class B. Class B CDL training is also aimed at vehicles more than 26,000 pounds. However, this license pertains to single vehicles or trucks towing less than 10,001 pounds.
  • Class C. Class C commercial vehicles are those that do not meet the weight requirements for the Class A or Class B categories. This typically includes vehicles with an endorsement to carry more than 16 passengers or transport hazardous materials.

Is CDL school required in South Dakota?

Although CDL training in SD is a valuable tool for passing the CDL exams, professional training courses are not required by the DPS office locations. Drivers can choose to apply for their licensing at any time and prepare in a way that they choose. In fact, there are a few other helpful CDL prep and study tools available outside of training courses.

However, the DPS strongly suggests that all applicants enroll in a CDL training program in order to fully prepare to get behind the wheel. Like enrolling in drivers education as a first-time motorist, CDL classes help students become familiar and comfortable with being behind the wheel of the vehicle. Commercial vehicle operation involves more knowledge and skills than the operation of personal vehicles.

Guided CDL training can help drivers obtain the hands-on experience needed to become safe and successful commercial drivers. This type of skill is not obtained by simply reading a manual and passing a test.

Curriculum of South Dakota CDL Classes

Training facilities provide CDL prep for the DPS commercial driving exam. This exam is divided into two parts, including a written portion and an on-road portion. The written exam is covered in a classroom setting, while the driving exam requires hands-on training.

Most CDL training courses dedicate a certain number of hours to prepare students for both of these elements. While classes are offered in a variety of facilities, most follow the same general format outlined below.

In-Class Instruction for the CDL Written Test

The main focus of this portion of the course prepares students for the CDL general knowledge test, which every driver must pass to get a CDL. However, most training programs do not offer CDL training online in SD because these courses involve a hands-on element. As a result, students are required to attend some sessions in a classroom setting.

Some drivers may also need to prepare for more than one type of CDL written test depending on the type of CDL they are seeking. These specialized tests include but are not limited to the operation of air brakes and combination vehicles. Endorsements for the transportation of hazardous materials or passengers require their own tests as well.

Instructors administer an online CDL test as a final exam at the end most training courses. This test is designed to mirror the real written test taken through the DMV. Students can use this final exam to learn what to expect when they finally apply for their CDLs. Applicants are required to pass all of their written tests with a score of at least 80 percent before they can receive a CDL permit and move on to the driving test.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction for the CDL Driving Test

Once they pass the written CDL tests, drivers are issued a CDL permit that allows them to practice their driving skills in the presence of a licensed commercial driver. Before taking the driving portion of the CDL test, drivers must hold this permit for at least 14 days.

To prepare for the CDL driving test, instructors put students behind the wheel of standard commercial vehicles. During this time, students learn how to complete the pre-trip inspection, perform basic vehicle maneuvers and handle various situations while on the roadway. Many of these facilities are also approved by the DMV to administer the official driving test to drivers when they are ready.

How long is CDL training in South Dakota?

The length of CDL classes tend to vary from program to program. The length of a course mostly corresponds to the level of instruction provided during the class and the type of facility hosting the class. CDL training courses that provide extensive training can last up to six weeks.

These programs combine the in-classroom and hands-on training to cover each part of the CDL examinations. Alternately, some programs only focus on preparations for the written test and take only a few hours to complete. This is a convenient option for drivers before renewing CDL credentials that require repeat testing.

Another factor that determines the length of a CDL prep course is the type of instruction. In particular, Class A CDL training courses are typically longer than Class B courses. This is because Class A vehicles require additional knowledge and skills. Drivers must keep this in mind when deciding which type of CDL to pursue.

Best CDL Schools Near Me in South Dakota

Drivers wondering, “Where is the best truck driving school near me?” have a few different options to choose from. CDL training cost and course lengths vary, so drivers must choose a course that best fits their needs. The following is a brief list of some of the top schools for aspiring CDL drivers:

  • Western Dakota Tech offers a Class A and Class B CDL training course as well as one-on-one training for an additional fee. This is one of several training programs the DMV authorizes to administer the official driving test.
  • Midwest Coast Transport (MCT) is one of the best CDL schools in SD for drivers who want to dive into the industry right away. MCT offers ongoing in-house training and safety recognition for new hires.
  • Mitchell Technical Institute offers customizable training to students, as well as access to the mobile driving simulator. Organized in a college format, drivers can choose from one of many classes worth between one and six credits, including an internship.
  • Lake Area Technical Institute is another local truck driving school, which provides courses that prepare students for the written exam as well as a refresher course. This school is also authorized to administer the official DPS driving test.

Benefits of Completing South Dakota Truck Driving School

Enrollment in professional CDL school has multiple advantages. Students use these courses to learn about the commercial driving industry, improve their driving skills and pass their CDL exams.

In addition, these CDL classes are also highly beneficial for drivers who are ready to start their careers. Job applicants are more likely to find success while applying to CDL jobs in SD after they complete a training course. This is because employers actively seek out these programs in order to find the most qualified candidates for hire.

Moreover, most training programs provide CDL job placement assistance to students. Through this service, graduate drivers are matched up with local trucking companies that have open positions. This allows these companies to ensure that their hires have the right training necessary for the job and provides drivers with a certain level of career stability.

CDL Training Costs in South Dakota

CDL training program costs can vary widely since this type of training is not required for applicants. CDL training costs are largely based on the length of the class and the level of instruction. Some facilities offer short test prep classes for less than $150. Others can reach over $4,000 due to the extensive training provided over the course of several weeks.

Drivers who want free CDL training or need assistance paying for a course can seek out programs that accept scholarships and grants. Some drivers are also able to get paid while training for CDL careers. One way to do this is for drivers to apply for jobs at trucking companies that offer in-house training. This allows employers to verify that a new hire receives the level of training expected at that company.

Another way to receive company paid CDL training in SD is for drivers to seek out employers who offer tuition reimbursement. This is a common practice in the industry because it encourages drivers to improve their driving skills. As a result, companies can hire the most qualified individuals for open positions.

Note: Tuition costs may not cover licensing fees such as the expense for the mandatory DOT physical exam for CDL credentials.

How to Self-Prep for South Dakota CDL Exams

There are other resources available outside of these CDL training courses if you need additional preparation for your CDL application. One such resource is a free CDL practice test with questions similar to those on the official DPS knowledge test. Using this tool, you can discover which CDL topics you need to study further. Then you can design a CDL study guide that is unique to your needs.

The DPS also offers a free South Dakota CDL handbook for drivers to study. This commercial driver’s manual covers all topics related to CDLs in the state, including regulations and safety procedures. To ensure you are fully prepared for your exams, it is beneficial to read the CDL book completely. Overall, the best way to study for your CDL is to utilize the handbook in conjunction with a training course and cover all of your bases.

Last updated on Friday, February 28 2020.