Truck Driver Training
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While it isn't a requirement to obtain your commercial driver's license (CDL), it can be difficult to find a job or even pass the examinations without attending a trucking school first.*
Unless you've already by trained (such as drivers recently separated from the military), your best truck driver training options are:
- Attending a private truck driving school.
- Applying for an employer apprenticeship.
Below are the benefits of each option and what you can expect to receive by signing up for a training course.
*NOTE: Although this page discusses trucking specifically, it's important to remember that truck driver training is a form of CDL training, but only relates to driving trucks—not school buses or other commercial vehicles. For more information regarding CDL training, please see our Intro to CDL Training page.
No matter what school you choose, you'll need to meet a few pre-enrollment requirements in order to be eligible to attend most truck driver schools. These include, among others:
- Having a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Possessing a valid driver's license.
- Providing proof of identity and citizenship.
In addition to these basic requirements, you may also be required by some schools to undergo random drug testing and be proficient in the English language.
Private Truck Driving Schools
Attending a private truck driving school can help you get the experience you need to land a job and pass each of the CDL examinations required. By choosing this option, here's what you should expect from most good training schools:
- Hands-on instruction from certified instructors.
- Practice facilities and on-the-road training.
- Classroom instruction.
- The material covered will help you pass the written knowledge test required for a commercial learner's permit.
- Vehicles that meet the requirements for CDL testing.
- Not using the proper equipment can result in a restriction being placed on your CDL license when you test.
- Learning emergency procedures.
- Advanced driving techniques, such as:
- Avoiding skids or loss of control.
- Recovering your vehicle properly.
- By-the-book procedural training.
- Some employer-based training will teach students based on the procedures of that particular company.
- Private schools often take a broader approach, which will prepare you for work with any company.
- On-site testing.
- Though not provided at all private schools, some training facilities are certified by state DMVs to provide CDL testing.
The length of the training will vary according to the school and the type of CDL classification you wish to achieve.
While opting for a private truck driving school can be a more expensive option, most schools have plenty of cost-effective ways to pay for schooling, such as:
- Veteran education benefits.
- Federal student aid.
- Tuition reimbursement.
- Some schools work with trucking companies who will provide you with tuition reimbursement following graduation.
Many nationally recognized private truck driver training schools will provide:
- On-site recruiters.
- These hiring events are set up to match students with employers in need of drivers.
- Job placement assistance programs.
- Quite a few schools have relationships with existing trucking companies and will be able to help you find employment during or just after you've completed your schooling.
Another option instead of private training school is to look for employers who offer their own training programs.
Qualification for apprenticeships is similar to those of a private trucking school except:
- You may be required to have a commercial learner's permit (CLP).
- You may be required to sign a contract to work for the company providing the apprenticeship before you are trained.
While apprenticeship training may not be as structured as the education you might receive at a private training school, it does have its advantages. These include:
- Little or no cost.
- Some apprenticeships may even be paid.
- Employment once your apprenticeship period is over.
- The road test for your CDL may still need to be completed through your state's DMV.
- Lots of driving experience.
- Most apprenticeship programs will have you go on the road with a certified CDL instructor.
- Using a company vehicle for your CDL testing.
- Learning your company's preferred methods of operation.
- In private truck driving school, instruction is usually more general.
No matter what option to decide to go with, make sure you're fully prepared by checking our page on things to bring to CDL training.