Washington CDL training is offered at many community colleges, technical schools and truck driving schools, located throughout the state. Before you can earn your commercial drivers license (CDL), you must take a road test. However, the Department of Licensing (DOL) does not allow you to sign up to complete this skills test until you have finished an approved CDL prep program. It is important to find a program that the DOL recommends, one that works for your schedule and one that provides you with training for the type of commercial driving you are interested in.

Enrolling in a WA CDL school can also be helpful to ensure you are familiar with all the topics that will be covered on your DOL exams. Through the training program, you will have access to a commercial vehicle and an experienced driver/instructor who can answer any questions you have about operation and road laws. A truck driving school is also a helpful resource once you earn your CDL and you are in pursuit of a career in the industry. To find out when you are required to take CDL classes and to review the best schools in the state, read through the following information.

What is CDL training in Washington?

You need to complete Class A CDL training in Washington if you plan to drive a combination vehicle with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of more than 26,000 pounds as long as the vehicle you are towing is over 10,000 pounds. With a Class A CDL, you cannot operate a passenger vehicle. Therefore, the training offered for this type of license will focus on truck driving and hauling.

You should look into Class B CDL training in WA if you plan to drive a single commercial vehicle with a GVWR that is more than 26,000 pounds or a vehicle towing a trailer that is 10,000 pounds or less. Keep in mind if the vehicle you want to drive falls into this category and you will be hauling hazardous materials or transporting 16 or more passengers, then you also need to earn additional endorsements for your license. If this is the case, then it is important to find CDL prep classes that include information on CDL endorsements since you will need to complete additional testing with the DOL.

Is CDL school required in Washington?

You must complete WA CDL training before the DOL will allow you to take your road test. Therefore, it is required before you can attempt to earn your CDL. Similar to when applying for a standard drivers license in WA, you are permitted to complete the knowledge exam and earn your commercial license permit (CLP) before you attend a training course.

However, you must have your CLP for at least 14 days and complete CDL training before you are permitted to take the skills test. Therefore, as a potential commercial driver, you may want to first sign up for a CDL course, then attempt to obtain your CLP. By completing the tasks in this order, you can obtain classroom instruction and studying time before attempting to take the knowledge test and obtain your CLP.

Curriculum of Washington CDL Classes

The topics covered in your Washington CDL classes will depend on the type of CDL you need to earn. However, most approved training schools provide both classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel hours.

In-Class Instruction for the CDL Written Test

Washington CDL training online is not available and all approved courses require you to attend in-classroom training and on-road training. Through classroom instruction, the courses cover the safe operation of commercial vehicles, road laws and what to do in emergency situations. This information is needed to pass the CDL general knowledge test as well as the road test later on.

In addition to information needed to pass the CDL permit test questions and road exam, the course will cover road laws and distracted driving laws in WA relevant to CDL drivers. Classroom instruction also usually covers employment information such as how to complete logbooks, deal with co-workers and file accident reports.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction for the CDL Driving Test

The behind-the-wheel instruction provided in classes is to prepare you for the Washington CDL test that is administered by the DOL before you can get your CDL. Therefore, during these hours, you will be driving a commercial vehicle under the supervision of your instructor. He or she will sharpen your skills and increase your confidence in maneuvering the vehicle.

You will practice performing the same maneuvers that you will be asked to do on your road test with the DOL, including:

  • Conducting pre-trip inspections.
  • Properly shifting and braking.
  • Backing up the vehicle safely.

Since the CDL driving test includes a demonstration of reading road signs, parking and changing lanes, the approved courses will cover these skills during behind-the-wheel hours.

How long is CDL training in Washington?

The length of your WA CDL training course depends on the type of CDL you need to obtain. The DOL requires the following number of hours for each CDL license class:

  • 160 hours for Class A
  • 48 hours for Class B
  • 36 hours for Class C

These hours are divided up into specific topics that the instructor must focus on. This ensures your CDL school is focusing on important skills that you will need to use in the field. All DOL approved courses must include a combination of:

  • Classroom instruction.
  • Street driving training.
  • Instruction for backing maneuvers.
  • Development of proficiencies.
  • Observation, lab training and range training.

Generally, the completion of your classes should take about four to six weeks.

Best CDL Schools Near Me in Washington

Before you search for any, “truck driving school near me in Washington” you must ensure that the schools you are looking into are approved by the DOL. You should only attend a school that the department approves or the completion of the training course will not count and you will still not be permitted to take the road test. The DOL offers an extensive list of the best CDL schools in WA that it approves, including:

  • Big Bend Community College. Through the Commercial Driver Training program, you can complete the DOL training requirement in a few months. The course also covers the daily tasks of a truck driver and upon completion, a third-party examiner is brought in to help you complete the DOL road test and, hopefully, issue your CDL.
  • C & H Trucking Academy. This WA CDL school offers a different course for Class A or Class B CDL training. The institution has numerous types of commercial vehicles, including trucks and buses, so you can practice driving the vehicle you are interested in. The instructors are experienced and knowledgeable, making them great resources throughout the training process.
  • Trans 360. One-on-one road instruction is provided throughout this course to allow you to learn how to safely operate a truck. This will ensure you pass the DOL road test on the first try. This program uses hands-on techniques, videos and lectures to ensure you understand the Washington commercial driver manual through and through.

Benefits of Completing Washington Truck Driving School

If you are looking into CDL jobs in Washington, then keep in mind you must complete a training course and successfully pass the DOL road test before earning your CDL. Courses through CDL schools are important to assist you in passing the road test on your first try.

These schools can also be your link to finding jobs in the commercial driving industry. Most of the schools offer their graduates CDL job placement assistance once they have earned their CDLs.

CDL Training Costs in Washington

The WA CDL training cost can vary, depending on the license class you need and the school you choose to attend. Keep in mind, if you choose to complete the course at a technical or community college, then you must pay the entrance and tuition fees for the class. For example, the CDL class through Big Bend Community College is $4,620.21. However, this amount includes the course, resources needed to complete the class and the DOL testing and licensing fees.

Paid CDL training may be available to you through your current or prospective employer. In some cases, your commercial driving employer may offer its own training program that is approved by the DOL. You may be able to complete this course through your employer for free and meet the DOL training requirements. If this is not an option for you, keep in mind that most schools offer tuition assistance and financing options.

How to Self-Prep for Washington CDL Exams

You can find a Washington CDL practice test on the DOL website as well as the commercial driver guide. You should go through this free CDL practice test several times and study the guide thoroughly before attempting to take the knowledge test for your CLP at one of the local DMV offices in WA.

While you can attempt the knowledge test without completing a training course, you are not permitted to attempt to complete the road test without a certificate that shows you have successfully completed an approved class.

Last updated on Friday, February 28 2020.