How Much Does it Cost to Get a CDL

If you have made your mind that being a professional truck driver is the best career option for you, you might be asking yourself some important questions. Some of these questions may be how much does it cost to get a CDL (commercial driver’s license). You may also want to know how much it will cost to attend truck driver training school.

Are you thinking about getting a CDL but are also budget-conscious? If yes, you might be wondering if it is possible to skip on the whole truck driving school deal and pocket the money the class may cost you. It is worth noting that a CDL often requires specialized training. Also, you will have to pay additional licensing fees.

However, note that it could be an excellent career investment – but you are probably wondering how much does it cost to get a CDL.

The benefit of having a CDL license is that you can explore various employment opportunities in the industry. This license will also make you more marketable, and you may enjoy better pay and other benefits, which is great.

Monetary CDL Costs

Did you know that the total cost to get a CDL can range from $2,000 to $8,000? Note that truck driving schools costs will be about $3,000 to $5,000. Keep in mind that the remaining amount covers various things, such as DMV fees, the medical exam, and testing fees.

You will have to pay this amount out of pocket. Note that in many cases, trucking companies provide tuition reimbursement. Also, some states might also offer worker retraining funding.

You will be pleased to know that hundreds of good commercial truck driving training schools and institutes are located all over the US. However, note that the CDL cost varies considerably from one state and school to another.

You will have to add certain endorsements to the CDL license in order to perform specific kinds of truck driving activities, covering skills such as transporting hazardous materials and tanker truck driving.

While you could pay considerably less if you choose not to get any endorsements on the CDL, it is usually not a good idea. Keep in mind that taking care of everything with one or more trips to the local DMV is definitely better than going repeatedly.

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Truck Driving Schools Cost and Tuition Cost

To improve your odds of passing the road skills and knowledge tests, it is essential to be fully prepared for it. And the best preparation usually happens in school. Truck driving schools costs or tuition varies from one institute to another.

However, we can safely say that the costs of taking professional truck driving training range between $2,000 and $6,000. Also, it may include some other expenses before enrollment.
You will be pleased to know that the best schools provide their students with the academic knowledge as well as practical skills required not only to pass the CDL tests but also to do their jobs as truck drivers.

Factors that Affect CDL Cost

You should know that the cost of getting your CDL will depend on these factors:

  • The kind of CDL, such as CDL A, you will get
  • The state in which you will get your CDL
  • Whether you have applied for any endorsements, such as hazmat; and
  • Your age; however, this does not apply in all US states

You should know that getting your CDL without going through some professional training is almost pointless. Because of various insurance requirements in the country, many trucking companies won’t hire you, even if you have a CDL if you haven’t completed your training.

CDL A License

Did you know that a class A CDL allows you to drive any combination vehicle (such as a tractor-trailer, semi, tanker vehicle, 18-wheeler, or Big Rig and flatbeds) with a GVWR of at least 26,001 pounds?

So, with a Class A CDL, you can operate:

  • Tanker vehicles
  • Livestock carriers
  • Flatbeds, and
  • Tractor-trailer buses

You will be happy to know that some states allow drivers that have a Class A CDL to also operate any vehicles that require either a Class B CDL or Class C CDL. And this means you can easily be employed in many companies.

Note that Class A CDL is issued to professional truck drivers who are at least 21 years old. And with this driving license, you can even cross state lines as well as operate along the interstate. This is what often makes Class A CDL very popular among drivers.

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CDL B License

On the other hand, a Class B CDL allows you to drive or operate any single vehicle which is not attached to a trailer and trailer trucks that have a detached cargo vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Note that you will have to complete this course within 80 hours.

You can spend 40 hours a week. Note that you can complete this course in two weeks, whereas the Class A CDL course takes four weeks.

Some examples of vehicles that fall under CDL B license are box trucks, pickup and delivery trucks, parcel delivery trucks, furniture delivery trucks, dump trucks with compact trailers, straight trucks, garbage trucks, large buses, and utility repair vehicles.

Note that you have to be 18 years old (at least) to apply for a CDL B license. Also, it is worth noting that this license allows drivers to operate commercial vehicles, such as straight trucks, only in the US state where they applied for it.

Are you a new driver? If yes, you can begin your career with a Class B CDL and easily get an excellent job in a local trucking company.

Illustration of a stopwatch that reads time to get your cdl.

What is the Cheapest Way to Get a CDL?

You should know that training through a reputable OTR company is the most affordable way to obtain a CDL, especially for people who have not set foot inside a truck in the past. If you find an OTR company that is willing to train and improve your skills as a newbie driver, usually there’s no cost.

Did you know that the largest and most reputable freight moving companies, such as Swift Transport, Schneider National, and Knight Transportation, often recruit new drivers and also provide CDL training? However, keep in mind that there’s one big catch.

You will have to give one year (at least) of your life to the OTR (over-the-road) firm that agrees to hire as well as train you so you can get your CDL. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are young and single with no income or poor job prospects. Remember that you will not see home for most of that year.

Also, keep in mind that the above companies and firms don’t always hire or train new drivers throughout the year. Sometimes, there is a “freeze” on newbie training within a specific company if it is fully staffed or when the economy is slow.

However, as a whole, the OTR industry has a very heavy turnover. This is why many OTR companies in the US are always looking for new drivers. So, if you’ve a reasonably clean driving record and you’re drug-free, many companies will be willing to train you.

Can I get a CDL without Going to School?

It is possible to study for as well as take your CDL examination without attending a professional truck driving course. However, keep in mind that it will be quite hard and challenging to find a trucking company or business that will hire you in order to drive for them.

You will be happy to know that there is no shortage of free online materials that you may peruse to prepare for your CDL knowledge and professional driving tests.

However, you may need to pay for scheduling driving practice times. Also, note that you can study for and take your endorsement examinations without having to attend any accredited driving program. Always remember that if you obtain your CDL without taking a professional course, then it can be more challenging for you to get a job. This is simply because most companies often require their truck drivers to complete an accredited driving program, which includes a minimum of 160 hours of instruction, usually because of insurance and business policy reasons.

Final Thoughts

Now, as you know and understand how much does it cost to get a CDL and attend driver training school, you can determine if the benefits of getting a CDL outweigh its costs. As we have seen, there are many factors or variables that impact how much a CDL costs. However, it is definitely an excellent investment that will pay off soon.
The best thing is that drivers with a CDL A license can earn a salary of up to $55,000 each year, meaning that you can quickly recover all or most of your expenses in a very short time.
And the job outlook in the US for truck drivers is excellent as well. With a CDL, you can make the most of some of the best opportunities out there in this industry.