CDL training is an important part of both becoming a truck driver and progressing professionally as a truck driver. Whether you are looking to become a truck driver, or looking to further your training or add endorsements, here is all the information you need.
What is CDL training?
In order to drive a large commercial vehicle such as a semi truck, you must first obtain a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. And in order to get your CDL license, you must first undergo some form of CDL training. CDL training is the umbrella term used to describe a program or course that prepares you for your CDL exams. If you are curious about the different types of CDLs and the entire process of getting your license, you can read more on our post on CDL drivers and licenses here.
How do you get CDL training?
There are a few different ways to undergo CDL training. The first and most obvious is to go to a CDL driving school. Much like a regular driving school, a CDL school is an institution that will coach you through every step of your CDL instruction, from beginning to certification. There are generally three types of CDL school, and they are as follows:
Licensed: A licensed school is one that meets minimum requirements for the state, in terms of curriculum, training, instructors, facilities, and so on. This means that it is also licensed by the state in which you are training.
Certified: A certified school is also fully licensed by the state, as well as being inspected and certified by a third-party company. In order to graduate from a certified school, you must meet the US Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements for the trucking industry.
Accredited: An accredited CDL school is one which has been approved and accredited by the US Department of Education, and thus meets specific regulations and policies required by them. Because of this, accredited CDL driving schools are the least common.
How can I get my CDL without going to school?
That’s a lot of talk about school — so you may now be wondering if there is a way to get your CDL without going to school. Just as you can when learning to drive a non-commercial vehicle, it is possible to skip the school part and learn to drive without it. Your purpose for doing this may be for any number of reasons — perhaps you are looking to save time or money. However, the truth is that you will likely save neither — and your education may suffer in the process. Another downside is that many states actually have requirements for how many hours of CDL instruction you must complete — and many trucking companies have similar requirements when it comes to hiring.
So, with all of that in mind, how can you get your CDL without going to school? You need access to a commercial vehicle, and a valid CDL holder who is willing to ride along and teach you everything you need to know. You also will need to study for the written exam on your own time. With all of this, you will almost certainly save yourself both time and money by going with a professional program — even when you factor in the cost of paid CDL training versus studying on your own time.
How long is training for CDL?
The amount of time you spend in CDL training naturally depends on the amount of time you are able to dedicate to it each week. On average, from the time you start training to the time you get your CDL license, the time spent is about six to eight weeks. This is typically when you are able to commit to a full-time CDL class — that’s five days or 40 hours a week. However, there are some expedited courses that can be completed in as little as three to four weeks.
Of course, life often gets in the way, and you may need to complete your CDL class while you work part/full time or fulfill other obligations. If that is the case, there are still weekend classes that allow you to complete the training in around the average amount of time. With that said, some states have specific requirements for the number of classroom and practical driving hours that must be completed. This may prolong the amount of time you spend in CDL school. Another factor is the type of CDL job you are looking to get, and any further endorsements you want to add.
Ultimately, the length of time you spend training for CDL will depend on both your availability and what you are looking to get out of it. Once you decide that, you w
ill be able to find a CDL school that matches your specific needs.
What further training can I do to increase my pay?
Just because you have been driving for a while, does not mean that you cannot or should not continue your training. In fact, there are a number of benefits to undergoing further training as a truck driver — the most obvious being increased earning potential. Building up your CDL certifications will look good to potential employers, and it often opens you up to different kinds of routes that may be higher paying. This is especially true if you add new endorsements, which you can learn more about here. Regardless, making yourself a better truck driver will not only benefit you personally, but also decrease the likelihood of accidents, which could also open you up to more bonuses and future raises.
Before you get started, CDL training may seem like a tall mountain to climb, but as you get into it, you might just find that you were made to be a truck driver all along. If you have your CDL and at least a year of experience, you might be eligible for a position with Matheson. View our career listings for more information.
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