Commercial Driver Education in North Dakota

You could call North Dakota a trucker's paradise. Surrounded by lush scenery and barely any traffic to speak of, a drive through ND really is like commuting down an Enchanted Highway.

But, before you can take a big rig out on the road, you'll need to apply for a North Dakota commercial driver's license (CDL).

When applying for a new CDL, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) will test your knowledge of safe and legal operation of a commercial vehicle.

To pass the required exams as quickly and easily as possible, though it's not state-required, consider enrolling in commercial driver education classes that apply to your desired CDL.


Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the ND Department of Transportation 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.

North Dakota CDL Education Details

As mentioned above, you are not required by the DOT to enroll in commercial driver training courses. That being said, the required CDL exams will come a bit easier if you've taken in-class and/or behind-the-wheel classes.

All new CDL applicants are required to take the following tests:

  • Written knowledge test.
  • General skills road test.

A classroom CDL course will help to prepare you for the format and content of the written exam.

A behind-the-wheel CDL course will allow you to get familiar with what it's like to actually drive a commercial vehicle, in preparation for the road test.

Classification & Endorsement Requirements

In addition to the general CDL written and road exams, you could be expected to take additional tests depending on the classification and endorsement(s) attached to the commercial driver license you're applying for.

The first thing you need to do, before even starting to look at CDL education courses, is to determine exactly which classification and endorsement(s) are applicable to you.

This way you won't encounter any surprises on your CDL testing day and you can walk into your exams with confidence.

Classroom CDL Courses in ND

Although the ND Department of Transportation does not require you to enroll in preparatory CDL classroom classes, you should still consider them a viable option.

Commercial driver education programs in North Dakota will vary in price and course length, so make sure you consider classes that won't jeopardize your budget and schedule.

Course Curriculum Options

When you start to narrow your search, look for a curriculum that at least covers the material that you'll need to know for the written general knowledge exam, like:

  • All of the steps for a complete vehicle inspection.
  • Vehicle parts and their proper function.
  • How to maintain control of your vehicle whilst:
    • Accelerating.
    • Braking.
    • Reversing.
    • Turning and steering.
  • Creating a clear and broad field of vision.
  • Calculating your required braking distance.
  • Safe driving in hazardous conditions like:
    • Fog.
    • Rain.
    • Snow.
    • Very hot weather.
    • Construction zones.
  • Controlling your vehicle on curves and steep downgrades.
  • Driving at night and through the mountains.
  • Proceeding through railroad crossings and other traffic signs/signals.
  • Allowing yourself enough space under bridges.

Additional CDL Written Test Prep

As said before, depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of your desired CDL, you could be required by the ND DOT to take additional written exams.

Other possible topics that you could be required to know include:

  • Handling of hazardous materials.
  • Hauling a liquid or gas-filled tank.
  • Operation of a passenger (public or private) bus.
  • Driving with double or triple trailers.
  • Safe operation of a school bus.
  • Using airbrakes.

When you've passed the CDL written test(s), you'll be eligible to receive a commercial learner's permit. You are required to hold the permit for at least 14 days upon receiving it, though you may hold it longer in order to practice and prepare. So, why not use that time to enroll in a behind-the-wheel course?

ND CDL Behind-the-Wheel Education

As mentioned earlier, the North Dakota DOT does not require commercial driver license applicants to take behind-the-wheel commercial driver training courses.

Keep in mind though, that behind-the-wheel programs are specifically designed to prepare you for your CDL road test. Enrolling in one can help your chances at passing the exam in a single attempt.

When you start to research your options, you should be primarily concerned with the following:

  • Classes are taught by instructors who hold valid North Dakota commercial driver's licenses.
  • Your budget and schedule are not stretched too thin.
  • The program's curriculum covers all of the skills you'll be required to master for the road test(s) that applies to your prospective CDL.

Road Test Training Curriculum

When you begin to narrow down your behind-the-wheel course options, look at the curricula. The program should at least cover the material that you'll need to know for the general CDL skills road test, which includes:

  • Process for conducting a thorough internal and external vehicle inspection.
  • Identifying different vehicle parts and how they should function.
  • Reversing in a straight line and while turning.
  • Parallel parking.
  • Docking in an alley.
  • Passing through an intersection.
  • Driving on expressways and in urban environments.

Additional CDL Road Test Prep

Just like the CDL written exams, you could be expected to complete additional road tests if your desired commercial driver license warrants it.

The other topics you might need to keep an eye out for include:

  • Air brakes inspection.
  • Making sure all trailer connections are secure.
  • School bus inspection and loading/unloading procedure.
  • Coach and public transit bus check and boarding passengers (different from school bus requirements).

You will be required to complete any and all skills applicable to your CDL, so make sure that you prepare accordingly.

When you feel confident in your abilities to pass the commercial driver's license road test, schedule an appointment with the DOT by calling (855) 633-6835.

Benefits of Commercial Driver Education

Although it'll mean giving up a portion of your time and money, CDL education courses are usually worth the sacrifice.

Some of the biggest benefits to consider include:

  • Comprehensive test preparation:
    • Your questions are answered by instructors that hold CDLs and have been through the North Dakota CDL application process themselves.
    • Courses cover all of the topics you'll need to know for the test(s) that apply to the classification and endorsement(s) of your desired CDL.
    • You'll probably be less distracted in a classroom environment.
  • Great job opportunities:
    • Employers will like, and sometimes require, that you have professional commercial driver training.
    • You'll establish a valuable employment network among your instructors and classmates.

Self-Studying for Your ND CDL

If you're trying to save some money, have to work long hours, or you simply learn better on your own time, you can still be well prepared for your CDL tests.

Everything that you need to know for the CDL exams is in the North Dakota Commercial Driver's License Guide. As you study, make sure that you're covering every section applicable to the your future CDL's classification and endorsement(s).

Also, CDL practice tests can be incredibly helpful tools for studying on your own. They'll familiarize you with the format and difficulty of the CDL exams, and will identify areas that might require a little more studying.

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