2 Ways To Get A CDL – Time To Take A Closer Look

2 Ways to Get a CDLLast time we covered the How What and Why of Getting a CDL, so now it’s time to take a closer look at the different ways to actually go about making it happen.  Like many things in life, there are different options to accomplish the same thing and getting a CDL is no different.  The right way for one person may be the wrong way for the next.   To make things simple, we’re going to cover the 2 most popular ways to get a CDL - learn on your own or attend truck driving school -  and explore when each way might make sense.

Want More?  Read on for more on the 2 ways to get a CDL or get caught up on our entire How To Get A CDL series

Option #1 – Learn On Your Own (Do it Yourself)

Some people just have the do-it-yourself mentality.  Whether it’s building a house or learning how to drive a semi tractor-trailer – they want to figure out a way to do it on their own.  When it comes to getting a CDL, this means following the process outlined by the DMV, which includes meeting the state’s license requirements, passing both the written and skills tests, and paying the necessary licensing fees.  This is just a quick overview on the process and more detail can be found in the state CDL manual here

When Learning On Your Own Makes Sense

One example where learning on your own makes sense is if a CDL is needed to keep an existing job.  In this case, an employer makes changes to the requirements of its workers (likely in response to updated laws) meaning that each employee needs to get a CDL in order to stay employed.  This often means it’s up to that employee to pass the CDL tests on his own time and generally little guidance beyond that is offered.  When this happens, many people turn to online permit practice tests for assistance. 

Another example of when the do-it-yourself way of getting a CDL might make sense is if the individual is unsure exactly what they want to do after getting the CDL license.  In this case, a CDL may just be something to add to a résumé to open up more options when they are ready to look for a job.  Often times this means learning at your own pace makes the most sense. 

Option #2 - CDL Training at Truck Driving School

At truck driving school, students go through a course designed to teach the basic information and skills needed to get a CDL.  Trucking schools typically are divided into two portions. The first portion, classroom training, covers information needed to get a CDL permit and explain the regulations and laws governing truck driving. The second portion, range/road training, focuses on learning the driving skills needed to pass the CDL skills test.  Most truck driving schools last right around 3-4 weeks and can range in cost from $3,000 - $7,000.   That’s quite a lot of money for most people, which is why company sponsored CDL training can be a good alternative.

What Is Company Sponsored CDL Training?

Some trucking schools offer CDL training sponsorship programs, which enable students to learn the skills needed to get a CDL with no upfront tuition cost.  The driver enters into an agreement to work for the company that’s sponsoring their training for a period of time (usually 1 year) upon completion of trucking school, in exchange for the upfront tuition costs being covered by the company.

When Going to Truck Driving School Makes Sense

Going to truck driving school is a good option for someone who prefers a more systematic, proven approach to getting a CDL.  Reputable trucking schools employ experienced instructors who have been trained on the best way to teach important skills such as how to do a pre-trip inspection and how to parallel park a semi.  These are skills that many struggle to learn on their own and are best taught in a school setting with access to the right equipment. 

Another example where going to truck driving school makes sense is when an existing job opportunity is the main motivation behind getting a CDL.  As is the case with the Driver Solutions company sponsored CDL training program, completing trucking school means that the driver is one step closer to a job with the trucking company that covered the upfront tuition costs. 

What's Next?

Now that we’ve talked about the 2 ways to get a CDL and when they make sense, it’s time to put them head to head.  Take a moment to find out why teaching yourself could be a really bad idea and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls that come along with it.

More on How to Get a CDL

We answer everything you ever wanted to know in our special How to Get a CDL series.  Just click a link below to read the complete article:

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