Commercial Driver Education in Minnesota

The application process for any sort of license can seem like a lot of work. For new MN commercial driver's license (CDL) holders, there are additional safety and driving skills you have to know about before taking a big rig out on the road.

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) does not currently require you to take commercial driver's education classes, but you should still consider them a valuable resource. This will be changing on February 7, 2022, when all applicants must undergo training prior to applying.

Below you will find suggestions on how to best prepare for the tests you'll be expected to take for your CDL.


Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the MN Driver and Vehicle Services now mandates new CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver training course through an authorized provider. You’ll need to complete this training prior to applying for your first commercial driver’s license, upgrading your existing CDL class, or applying for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.

MN Commercial Driver's Ed Requirements

As mentioned above, you aren't currently required by Minnesota state law to take driver's education courses during your application for a CDL, though this will be changing on February 7, 2022. However, enrolling in classroom and behind-the-wheel programs will make passing the required exams much easier.

When testing for a commercial driver license in MN, the DVS requires you to pass:

  • A written general knowledge exam.
  • Any additional written tests that apply to the classification and endorsement(s) of the commercial vehicle you'll be driving.
  • A basic skills road test.

In-class courses will prepare you for the initial written test(s), required for you to get your CDL instruction permit.

Behind-the-wheel programs will prepare you for the road skills test, and familiarize you with the vehicle you'll be driving during the road exam.

CDL Classroom Education in MN

Although enrollment in classroom driver's education programs isn't currently state-required, you should still consider it a viable option.

An in-class program proves especially beneficial if your home environment isn't conducive to studying what, at times, can be very dense material.

When selecting a program, look for a curriculum that covers general topics like:

  • Proper vehicle inspection.
  • Different sorts of transmissions and shifting gears.
  • Optimizing your field of vision.
  • Safe acceleration and braking practices.
  • Sharing the road with other vehicles.
  • Driving at night and/or in hazardous conditions.
  • Procedure at certain road signs and railroad crossings.
  • Antilock braking systems.
  • Emergency situation procedures.

Additional CDL Topics

Depending on the classification and endorsement(s) attached to your prospective CDL, you should look for driver's education programs that cover additional applicable topics like:

  • Loading and securing cargo.
  • Passenger loading and inspection.
  • Driving a combination or multiple trailer vehicle.
  • School bus safety.
  • Transporting liquids in a tank.
  • Correct handling and transportation of hazardous materials.

In-class CDL education will differ in price and course length depending on where you choose to enroll. So, just make sure that the program you choose fits into your budget and schedule, and covers all of the material you'll need to know.

MN Behind-the-Wheel CDL Education

Once you've passed your written CDL tests you will receive a CDL instruction permit. You have to hold your instruction permit for at least 14 days before signing up for a road test.

During the waiting period, consider signing up for a behind-the-wheel course. This can give you the practice and confidence you need to test for your full Minnesota CDL and pass on your first attempt.

First and foremost, when selecting a course, you should make sure that:

  • It's taught by instructors who hold valid CDLs.
  • You can enroll in a program specific to the classification and endorsement(s) of the commercial vehicle you'll be testing in and eventually driving on a daily basis.

Commercial Driver Training Curriculum

In terms of curriculum in a CDL behind-the-wheel class, look for a program that covers all of the skills you'll need to know to pass the Minnesota CDL road test, including:

  • A thorough pre-trip vehicle inspection.
  • Identifying vehicle parts and function.
  • Safely entering and exiting the vehicle.
  • Maintaining an adequate field of vision.
  • Backing up.
  • Turning and curve handling.
  • Keeping to your own lane on the road.
  • Driving on different kinds of roads, including:
    • Highways.
    • Suburban streets.
    • Mountainous routes.
    • Rural routes.
  • Correct procedure at railroad crossings and intersections.
  • Safely bringing your vehicle to a complete stop.
  • Starting your vehicle and getting onto a busy road.

When you feel confident in your abilities to safely complete the commercial driver license road test, schedule an appointment at your local Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) office location.

Benefits of MN Commercial Driver's Ed

Overall, preparing for the DVS commercial driver tests will take a lot of work.

Enrolling in CDL classes can mean sacrificing some of your time and finances, but should prove to be worth it in the long run.

Some of the benefits of signing up for in-class and behind-the-wheel programs include:

  • Better test preparation.
    • Curriculum structured around the specific information, skills, and format of the CDL exams gives you the proper foundation for your CDL type.
    • Classes are taught by professionals who already have their commercial driver's licenses, so every question about CDL driving and testing can be answered with confidence.
    • There are less distractions in a classroom environment.
  • Employment opportunities.
    • When employers see that you attended classes taught by professionals, they will likely have more confidence in your abilities.
    • You may benefit from networking opportunities through classmates and instructors.

Study for a Minnesota CDL on Your Own

Maybe your budget and schedule don't allow for CDL prep courses, or maybe you just learn more effectively when studying on your own.

Whatever the case, you always have the option of preparing for the Driver and Vehicle Services CDL tests on your own time.

The Minnesota commercial driver's manual has all of the information you'll need to know before going into the written test(s). Just make sure that you cover every section pertaining to the class and endorsements of the CDL you're applying for.

Other helpful preparation tools are practice tests. Most practice tests will familiarize you with the format of the CDL exams and identify areas that might require a little more studying.

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