Truck Driver CDL Training

If you're interested in driving semi-trucks and other trucks for a trucking company, you will need to get your Commercial Driver's License and also complete a professional truck driver training program. Truck driving training programs are designed to provide students with classroom, behind-the-wheel, and road experience and ensure that students are following all of the safety protocol to drive larger vehicles on different types of terrain. Many schools that offer these programs are partnered with industry organizations including truck manufacturers and transportation companies, and may offer paid training programs for students who want to work with a particular company throughout their career.

Enrolling in a CDL Training Program

Truck driving training programs are available at dozens of vocational schools, community colleges, and private training institutions around the country. The basic requirements for completing these programs are that you need to be able to afford the tuition and meet all the requirements to get your CDL learner's permit.

Since these are not approved degree or certificate programs, you will not be able to use student loan funds to cover the cost of tuition. However, you can find a number of schools that work with the Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to offer discounts or aid to qualifying students. Some private schools also offer their own scholarships and financial assistance programs.

Completing a CDL Training Program

In order to earn your Class A Drivers License, or Commercial Driver's License, you'll need to take a series of specialized courses through a CDL training program. This is the basic course for all truck drivers and prepares you for the CDL examination. You can take additional courses at a training center to gain advanced skills or specialized skills in a particular area.

A Commercial Driver's License is required by law if you plan to drive any type of commercial vehicle for hire in the United States. You'll need a CDL if you will be driving:

  • A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 lbs.
  • A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs.
  • A vehicle designed to carry 15 or more passengers, not including the driver
  • Any size of vehicle that will be transporting hazardous materials of any kind

Keep in mind that truck driver training programs will vary slightly from school to school, and from state to state. However, you will be covering the following types of topics when you are preparing for the CDL exam in any state:

  • Combination vehicles
  • Air brakes
  • Doubles and triples (trailers)
  • Passenger vehicles
  • School buses
  • Tank vehicles
  • Hazardous materials
  • Driving skills test

The driving skills test is broken up into three parts: a pre-trip inspection where you learn how to determine if the vehicle is safe to operate; basic vehicle control where you learn important maneuvering skills; and the road test where you must get a high score for driving, parking, and maneuvering the truck according to certain guidelines. Some of the training is state-specific so you may need to take additional courses if you end up moving out of state and want to maintain your CDL.