How Long Does it Take to Get a CDL?
Getting a CDL is a great way to make more money as a truck driver. However, you might be wondering how long it takes to get a CDL and if the time is worth it.
If you are taking classes full time, it typically takes seven weeks to get a class A CDL. Knowing the different factors that affect how long trick driving school training is will help you plan your time off work appropriately and help you choose the right school.
Factors that Affect How Long it Takes to Get Your CDL
Type of CDL
While full-time Class A CDL programs typically take seven weeks to complete, Class B programs are typically shorter. This is because a Class A license gives you the experience needed to drive more different types of trucks and larger loads.
Class B programs take 2–4 weeks, but only prepare you to drive smaller loads like straight trucks and dump trucks. Class C programs also take less time but only certify drivers for trucks like buses, small trailers, and hazmat vehicles.
Each endorsement you add to your license will increase how long it takes to get a Class A CDL. Some endorsements are actually required for certain CDLs and will cost you more money in addition to taking more time. However, having endorsements on your license can increase your income and the number of job opportunities you are qualified for.
The six different endorsements you can add to your CDL are:
- (P) Passenger Transport Endorsement
- (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport Combo Endorsement
- (T) Double/Triple Endorsement (Tanker)
- (N) Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Tanker)
- (H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement
- (X) Tanker/Hazmat Combo Endorsement
Auto vs Manual Truck
The type of truck you are learning to drive may affect how long it takes to get your CDL. Although the type of truck doesn’t require any extra classroom hours, an automatic truck might take you less time to master than a manual truck. No matter what type of truck you are driving, you need to be comfortable enough to pass the skills test.
The quicker you pick up the skills means that you will be able to pass the driving test with fewer practice hours. Your natural driving ability is a big factor in determining how much time you’ll need to spend preparing for your driving test.
Full-Time vs Part-Time Programs
Most CDL programs run five days a week for eight hours a day. Some driving school programs allow you to attend part-time. Your local community college also might offer a truck driving program a few days a week. This is a great option that allows you to continue working while taking classes. However, this means that your training period will take longer since you are only attending at night or on weekends.
You can typically expect 30–80 hours spent in the classroom. Keep in mind that the more time you spend in class, the more prepared you are to take the written exam. Some schools require fewer hours spent in the classroom than others. This is especially true for programs that expect you to pass the written exam before spending time in the classroom. Having the exam already passed means that you won’t spend as much time in class going over the information on the exam.
Before you can get your CDL, you need to spend time driving with a licensed CDL driver. It takes practice to be prepared for the driving skills test, and the more your practice the longer the training will take.
How long it takes to get a CDL can differ from state to state. Some states require more driving hours or stricter testing, while others demand less of a time commitment.
Some states might only offer written exams or driving tests on certain days and times. This can make it difficult to schedule a testing period. Other states allow third parties to give CDL skills tests. This means that you can test with a different state, an employer, or a private company. Make sure to see what is allowed in your state and what option fits best in your schedule.
Now that you know how long it takes to get a Class A CDL, it’s time to pick a driving school that works best for you. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a program, but having your CDL will make you a much better candidate for top driving positions. No matter what type of program you choose, the training and certifications prepare you to be safe and successful in the trucking industry.
Once you’ve obtained your CDL and have a year of experience, check out our careers page to find a truck driving position that is right for you.