Commercial Driver Education in Oregon

While living in a state like Oregon, the natural world seemingly beckons you to step outside and experience all of the beauty that the outdoors has to offer. Wouldn't you like to color your days with the emerald greens of fir trees and the sprawling sapphire blues of Oregon's lakes and rivers?

If so, you should consider applying for an Oregon commercial driver's license (CDL) through the OR Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV). The DMV will give you a series of tests, requiring you to prove your knowledge of the new safety and driving skills that are needed to operate a commercial vehicle.

Depending on the line of commercial driver work you plan on entering, you could be required to complete additional training after receiving your CDL. Continue reading for more information about commercial driver education and mandatory trainings.


Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the OR DMV 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.

Required Oregon CDL Training

In preparation for the OR Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division's commercial driver license exams, you are not state-required to enroll in formal CDL education courses.

Once you're in possession of a valid Oregon CDL with a school bus endorsement, potential school bus drivers are legally required to complete specialized trainings before being able to work transporting students.

OR School Bus Drivers

If you want to drive a school bus in Oregon, you will need to complete job-specific additional trainings, AFTER receiving your CDL with school bus (S) and passenger (P) endorsements.

Upon completion of the school bus driver trainings, you'll receive a school bus driver's certificate, which allows you to legally transport students. Without certification, it is illegal for you to operate a school bus carrying students.

The trainings that all new Oregon school bus drivers must complete for initial certification are:

  • Classroom Core course, taught by a certified Core instructor – minimum of  8 hours.
  • Behind-the-wheel instruction with a certified trainer – 15 hours.
  • First aid class.

Once you've received your school bus driver's certificate, you can maintain its validity by completing the following trainings:

  • Core Refresher Course every 4 years.
  • Annual in-service training, lasting at least 8 hours.

If you have any more questions regarding school bus driver training in Oregon, contact the Department of Education's Pupil Transportation office at (503) 947-5600.

All OR Commercial Driver Applicants

Despite the fact that you aren't state-required to take CDL test prep classes before applying for your Oregon commercial driver license, doing so will most likely improve your chances of being able to pass the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division's CDL exams on your first try.

The CDL tests that all Oregon commercial driver license applicants are required to pass include:

  • Written CDL general knowledge test.
  • Behind-the-wheel CDL skills test.

Depending on your desired CDL's classification and endorsement(s) you could also have to pass additional commercial driver's license testing. This is why it's important that you know exactly which classification and endorsement(s) apply to your particular CDL. Otherwise, on testing day you might face CDL exams at the DMV that you're simply not prepared for.

To learn more about commercial driver license classifications and endorsements, refer to the following guides:

Optional OR Commercial Driver Test Prep

As mentioned above, you are not legally obligated to take preparatory commercial Driver's Ed classes, but doing so can still be of great benefit for the following reasons:

  • Most Oregon commercial driver employers will require that you've had some sort of professional training before they consider hiring you.
  • Commercial driver's license test prep classes are specifically designed to help you pass the Oregon DMV's required CDL exams.

The types of Oregon CDL test prep options will likely fall along the following lines:

  • An in-class course that will prepare you for the format, material, and difficulty of the DMV's written CDL tests.
  • A behind-the-wheel training program, which will familiarize you with the vehicle and skills that you'll need to be comfortable with for the DMV's CDL road tests.

So, if you seriously begin to look into your different commercial driver's license test prep options, ask the following crucial questions about each program:

  • Is the course's tuition and duration reasonable, considering your personal budget and schedule?
  • Will certified instructors who possess valid commercial driver licenses be teaching your classes?
  • Does the class curriculum cover all of the material that you'll need to master for your particular CDL's written and road exams?

Oregon CDL In-Class Education

To prepare for the OR Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division's written testing, consider taking an in-class CDL education course. The curriculum of the courses you look at should at least cover the topics that you'll see on the written CDL general knowledge test, including:

  • Complete vehicle inspections before, during, and after a trip.
  • Proper acceleration and braking practices.
  • Use of manual and automatic transmissions.
  • Awareness and communication with the drivers around you.
  • Maintaining a safe speed in difficult circumstances like:
    • Heavy traffic.
    • Slippery road surfaces.
    • Sharp turns.
    • Steep downgrades.
  • Keeping enough space around your vehicle at all times.
  • Spotting and dealing with hazards like:
    • Construction areas.
    • Objects in the road.
    • Dangerous drivers.
    • Harsh weather conditions.
  • The dangers of driving while impaired or distracted.
  • Emergency situation and accident procedure.

You could have to take multiple written tests if the classification and endorsement(s) of your commercial driver license require it. The additional written exams you might have to also prepare for include:

  • Passenger transport.
  • Air brakes.
  • Combination vehicles.
  • Hazardous material transport.
  • Liquid or gas-filled tankers.
  • Double or triple trailers.
  • School bus operation.

When you feel ready, schedule a written CDL test appointment at your local Oregon DMV office.

OR Behind-the-Wheel CDL Training

After passing the DMV's commercial driver's license written tests, you'll receive an Oregon CDL instruction permit. Your permit is valid for 1 year and can be renewed prior to its expiration date.

With a CDL instruction permit, you can practice driving your commercial vehicle of choice in preparation for the DMV road skills exam. For optimal preparedness, consider taking a behind-the-wheel commercial driver training course. Doing so will help to ensure that you can execute all of the skills that'll be expected of you on your CDL road testing day.

The behind-the-wheel courses that you look at should at least teach the skills that the DMV will need you to perform for your CDL skills road test, including:

  • Mastering backing procedures (e.g. parallel parking and docking in an alley).
  • Safely proceeding through intersections and railroad crossings.
  • Entering and exiting the freeway/moving traffic.
  • Controlling vehicle speed on steep upgrades and downgrades.
  • Practicing basic safety skills like:
    • Checking your mirrors.
    • Using your turn signals.
    • Staying within your lane.
    • Keeping both hands on the wheel.

Like the DMV's written CDL testing, you could also have to learn additional behind-the-wheel skills if your commercial driver's license's classification and endorsement(s) call for it. The additional CDL road test material could include topics like:

  • Specialized pre-trip inspection for:
    • Transit and school buses.
    • Trailers.
    • Vehicles with air brakes.
  • Shifting gears with a manual transmission.
  • Letting students off of a school bus.

When you feel confident and comfortable driving your commercial vehicle, you can schedule a commercial driver license road test appointment at one of the following:

OR CDL Self-Study Guide

Remember that you always have the option of studying for your Oregon CDL on your own time. There is no law saying that you must enroll in CDL test prep courses.

Everything that you need to know for the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division's written and road CDL tests is in the Oregon Commercial Driver Manual. Make sure that you study every section pertaining to the classification and endorsement(s) on your commercial driver's license.

Additionally, you can take online CDL practice tests, which are a helpful tool in gauging how well you know the material. They're also great preparation for the DMV's CDL written tests in particular, as they give you the format that you can expect on the test, as well as identify areas you need more study in.

As long as you're a dedicated and disciplined studier, you'll pass your required CDL exams with ease.

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