So how long is CDL school of truck driving? It usually takes as little as three weeks or as long as six months. However, on an average, it takes about seven weeks to get a CDL. This timeline is possible only for students attending full-time training. And, in addition to the training schedule, there are various factors that affect how long CDL classes take.
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How Long Does CDL Training Last?
Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is needed to become a professional tractor-trailer driver. If you enroll yourself in a reputed truck driving school, you can easily complete your CDL training in about a month.
This process is wholly regulated by the Federal government’s Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) mandate. But, the exact time it takes to train depends on how quickly you can gain the essential skills and knowledge through classroom education and skill training.
Truck Driver Skills
Before you go into the trucking industry, there are few truck driver skills you should know:
Firstly, write down your patterns. Make a list of what you do daily beginning from the time you get up till the time you go to sleep. Make a precise list and be honest with yourself. Now, note down how much time is dead-time. Make a note of what you’re wasting your time doing and your patterns of what you’re being productive on a daily basis.
Secondly, just next to that – write how much money you’re making. You must know that once you get into the truck driving industry, all your patterns are going to be disrupted. You need to be ready to manage the time commitment that comes with being a truck driver. Most importantly, you’ll have to wake up early every day and drive a truck irrespective of time and climate.
ii) Mind Training
Another essential skill a truck driver needs to possess is to be able to train their mind. Train your brain to think in the present scenario. If you pile on stuff that’s gonna happen next week or tomorrow, then you won’t get through it. Make sure you deal with everything in the present moment.
iii) Physical Health
To be a truck driver, you need to change your physical health. Fact to note that driving a truck requires you to sit in a truck all day long. Change your lifestyle so you can keep up with your physical health intact while still being a truck driver.
For instance, if you say to your client that you will deliver a package at a certain time, you must make sure you stick to it. This skill is one of the most important skills a trucker must have. If you are not dependable as a truck driver, none of your other skills really matter.
What Factors Affect the Time It Takes to Get a CDL?
Professional truck driver is one of the few high paying jobs that does not need a college degree or a lot of time. Unlike various trade school or traditional higher education programs, you can obtain your CDL in less than a month.
As it doesn’t take long to get a CDL, however, it does take dedication. When picking a school, you would want to consider the following factors:
While attending truck driving school – there are two options ahead of you, either full time or part time. The advantage of full-time attendance is that you can finish in 3-4 weeks. Full-time spent in class will lessen the overall time it takes to get a CDL.
But, flexible part time and night schedules are available at some selected schools. Attending classes part-time will definitely extend the time it takes to get a CDL. The aim is to select a program that allows you to understand the material and develop the skills required to get a commercial driver’s license.
ii) CDL Training Length
The length of CDL classroom training could affect how long truck driving school takes, but it is very important. A real time example, DRC Network Schools offer a 160-hour training curriculum. This is divided into two parts, classroom and driving.
Classroom training is 40 hours and covers all the essential knowledge required to safely operate a commercial vehicle. From DOT regulations and defensive driving techniques to road condition, classroom time is extremely important to your success and creates the foundation for road and range training.
Road and Range training is 120 hours and ethically follows classroom training. During this training, students spend their time practicing driving and backing maneuvers like the straight line back and alley dock.
Furthermore, students would practice on the road driving with a licensed CDL driver. Their curriculum is set up to offer adequate time for students to develop their skills and comfort level behind the wheel.
iii) License Type
There are three different types of CDL licenses: Class A, B, and C. Each classification permits you to drive trucks with various weight ratings. You would need a Class A CDL to drive trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
Class A driving school takes longer than Class B, because you can drive a larger variety of trucks and heavier loads. Getting a Class B takes less time, which would prepare you to drive a straight truck, dump truck and smaller weight. But, the time it takes to get a Class A is all worth your time because of higher earning potential and opportunity.
iv) Student Ability
How long it takes to get a CDL solely relies on your ability to grasp and master driving maneuvers. The better your aptitude for driving, the more likely you will complete training in a short period of time (3-4 weeks).
It’s true that all students learn at a different pace and the only goal for you is to have the skills to pass the CDL exam. Majority students complete training in 4 weeks with no previous driving experience.
v) Testing Schedule
Another factor that can affect the duration to become a truck driver could be testing availability. Some schools offer on-site third-party testing. Whereas, others require students to test at state government locations. The type of testing and availability can help in determining this timeline.
What is ELDT Training?
In between your search to learn more about CDL training and the length of CDL classes, you might have come across the term “ELDT”. This stands for Entry-Level Driver Training. In February 2022, the FMCSA Entry-Level Driver Training rule went into effect making it mandatory for all new commercial drivers to complete an entry-level driver training program before getting their CDL.
You might be wondering if ELDT has increased, how long it takes to get a CDL? ELDT sets a minimum standard for commercial truck driver education that CDL training providers must meet. In addition, most of the schools are ELDT certified.
How Long Does CDL Training Take with the ELDT Mandate?
Initially, the ELDT Mandate was first passed in 2012 but went into effect on February 7, 2022. Any driver obtaining a CDL, upgrading to a Class A, or getting certain endorsements for the first time is subject to revised regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) doesn’t set certain requirements for how many hours of training for CDL training programs. The significant element of any driving school is the number of subjects that it covers.
The ELDT standards require around 35 subjects of classroom training and a score of at least 80% on the theory assessment part from the program. The ELDT standards also require applicants to showcase proficiency in many hands-on skill areas in operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Things covered in Classroom education and Skills training:
i) Classroom Education
A portion of your CDL training includes classroom education. How long is a CDL training class? Most students go through CDL Driving School in about a month. The classroom part of that training prepares you for the following tasks:
- Pre-trip inspection: Review all the steps to inspect your tractor-trailer before leaving the parking lot and start driving.
- Map reading and trip planning: A GPS will help you to find the most direct route but commercial truck drivers need to use trip planning skills to prevent low-clearance areas and roads inappropriate for tractor-trailers.
- Logbook entry: Stay compliant with Department of Transportation laws and regulations regarding logbook entry.
- Maintenance inspection: Learn the signs of a maintenance issue before you practice these essential inspections in real-world conditions.
- Rules and Regulations: Study the rules and regulations governing the operation of commercial motor vehicles.
ii) Skills Training
An ELDT-compliant truck driving school mostly includes hands-on training. Practice these and other essential skills before getting behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer on the very first day of your new career:
- Backing and turning: These basic tasks could be more difficult with a 53-foot trailer than you think, if you don’t practice. Driving School includes a certain time period at their facility to practice these maneuvers in a safe environment.
- Coupling and uncoupling: Prepare to deliver freight as a professional truck driver by learning these important skills.
- Road time: Don’t just drive around the parking lot during your training period. Learn what it’s like to drive in real-world conditions before you obtain your CDL.
What Tests Are Required for the CDL Exam?
Your CDL training should prepare you to take the CDL exam confidently. As you prepare for this exam, here are the qualifications you’ll need to meet:
- Medical exam: The Department of Transportation physically ensures you are physically able to drive a truck.
- Driving record: A DUI or speeding ticket might not disqualify you from obtaining a CDL, but they play an important role while applying for employment after graduation.
- Criminal background check: Any sort of violation might prevent you from getting hired at certain trucking companies, however you may still be able to get your CDL and drive professionally.
- Knowledge portion: The Theory exam covers around 35 subjects that you have learned during your classroom training. Before proceeding towards the hands-on skill training, you are required to pass the Commercial Learner Permit knowledge test.
- CDL Skills Test: Demonstrate your pre-trip inspection, backing, turning, and driving skills. Applicants must show proficiency in certain required hands-on tasks and pass the CDL Skills Test to obtain a CDL.
Types of CDL Driving School Training with duration
In the field of truck driving, there are three licenses you can get. Class A, Class B, and Class C. Because the trucking industry is rapidly changing, you must know that the lengths of the training are not always the same. The types of courses are listed below:
i) CDL A Training
These courses allow you to drive across state lines. Comparatively, Class A CDL allows you to drive more vehicles freely than Class B and C. CDL A Training can be classified into two parts:
- 3-6 Weeks
On an average, your CDL-A training can last somewhere between 3-7 weeks. Instead of most training that usually takes several months or years to complete, you can select to take the CDL-A training in as little as 3 weeks. When you prefer to take it this way, you are required to take a full-time training course that runs 5 days a week.
By choosing this way, you can be a certified truck driver and be ready for a trucking job in 3-6 weeks. Note, this program requires a full-time commitment. This program is just the same as a full-time job. You need 40 hours a week. Keep in mind that this heavy commitment might not work for everyone as they have other commitments they need to do in life, for instance, a different job.
- 3 Months
If you want to keep working at your regular job and do this training in part-time mode, then this program is best for you. This way, you can get all of your training done in 3 months, if you really push yourself.
The length of this program does not extend over days, but rather hours. Every school has different requirements for the minimum driving to complete the program.
ii) CDL B Training
CDL-B training is quite different from CDL-A training. The only thing that differentiates CDL-B from CDL-A training is that this one requires you to drive heavier vehicles, for example, a vehicle that could weigh more than 26,000 lbs.
If you opt for CDL-B, then your training would more likely be faster and less expensive. In fact, you can get your license with this program in as little as 7 days to 3 weeks. But, the career opportunities you have with this training are going to be lower paying as compared to the CDL-A training.
iii) CDL C Training
The class C training is for people who want to drive vehicles carrying more than 16 people, like a bus. But, they also require endorsements. For instance, if you’re going to be driving a school bus, you need to get a school bus endorsement. The training lengths differ depending on your school and state you are willing to operate.
A quick summarization
So how long is CDL school? Depending on the school, state, and the program, truck driving school could be as little as seven days, or as much as several months. After going through all these points, we know that you should be careful while choosing which school you are going to – so you can get in the time you want.
It’s no surprise that deciding to become a truck driver is a big decision. Be mindful to pick the choice that is right for you and can conveniently fit in with the time-commitments you already have. Remember that if you choose to go part-time, then getting your license will take a bit longer than if you commit to doing full-time training.
|Truck Driver Skills
– Mind Training
– Physical Health
|Factors affecting the time it takes to get a CDL
– CDL Training Length
– License Type
– Student Ability
– Testing Schedule
|Things covered in Classroom education and skills training:
(i) Classroom Education
|– Pre-trip Inspection
– Map reading and trip planning
– Logbook entry
– Maintenance Inspection
– Rules and Regulations
|(ii) Skills Training
|– Backing and Turning
– Coupling and Uncoupling
– Road Time
|Tests required for CDL Exam
|– Medical Exam
– Driving Record
– Criminal Background Check
– Knowledge Portion
– CDL Skills Test
|Types of CDL School Training
|– CDL A Training
– CDL B Training
– CDL C Training
So, there you have it – the journey through CDL driving school is like navigating the open road. From mastering the tasks to sharpening your skills, it’s not just about the miles, but the experiences you gain along the way. Be ready for all the obstacles in the training because the road to becoming a trucker is as thrilling as the destination itself!
I'm a HR at OpenFR8 and a passionate blogger. Apart from my day job as HR, reading and writing books/blogs are two of my absolute favorite things to do. I like taking on new challenges and most importantly, I believe in bringing efficiency towards everything I do. I love expressing my thoughts and visions through the medium of words in the form of blogs or articles or books. Till this date, I've successfully published three short-novels on my own and will continue to do so.