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How long does it take to get a CDL? - 6 factors to consider

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Getting a Commerical Driver’s License (CDL) is one of the first steps you must take when beginning your professional truck driving career. If you’re eager to start your new career, you’re probably wondering, “How long does it take to get a CDL?”

Obtaining a CDL can take as little as three weeks or as long as six months. But, on average, it takes about seven weeks to get a CDL when attending a full-time driver training program.

This training timeline varies so greatly due to the factors listed below.

6 Factors that can affect how long it takes to get a CDL

1. The type of CDL you get.

There are three classifications of CDLs for people can choose to obtain:

  • Class A CDL.
  • Class B CDL.
  • Class C CDL.

Each of these CDL classifications allow you to drive trucks of varying weight ratings and with different hazardous classifications, and they all have different training requirements.

However, if you are interested in becoming a professional truck driver, you’ll likely need to choose between getting a Class A CDL and a Class B CDL.

2. The additional endorsements you add to your CDL.

There are six different endorsements that can be added to your CDL, which will affect the overall timeline it takes to actually get a CDL. Endorsements include:

While having endorsements in addition to your CDL is not required for many driving jobs, it does open opportunities to choose from a wider variety of specialized driving jobs and the potential to earn a higher salary.

3. If you attend a full-time vs. apart-time training program.

To obtain your CDL, you’ll have to complete an official training program. But exactly how long is CDL school?

CDL training programs are usually held at trucking schools or community colleges and come in two different time schedules:

· Full-time programs: These programs usually run five days a week (often Monday through Friday) and allow students to complete their CDL training at a faster rate.

· Part-time programs: These programs usually consist of Saturday and Sunday classes for as little as five weeks. Part-time CDL training is great for people who are working full-time or don’t have the flexibility to attend class five days a week.

When deciding between a full-time and part-time program, you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • What program would best fit my lifestyle?
  • How much time can I dedicate to going to class each week?
  • How much time do I need to learn and understand new information?
  • Do I want to continue working full or part-time while attending school?

4. How much time you spend in the classroom.

When you attend a CDL training program, the classroom portion of the training usually ranges from 30-80 hours. However, the amount of time you spend in the classroom will vary based on the program you attend.

Before choosing a program, consider your learning preferences – would you prefer to spend more of your time in the classroom or doing hands-on training outside in a yard? Determine if you feel more classroom and instructor time will better prepare you to pass your written exam and head out on the road.

Once you figure out your preferences, do some research on the websites of truck driving schools to find out if they align with your needs.

5. How much time you spend practicing driving.

To prepare for the CDL driving test, you’ll also need practice with a licensed CDL driver in the passenger seat.

Go back to the previous question you asked yourself – if you would prefer to spend more time out in the yard to gain more time behind the wheel, select a school that offers a generous amount of driving hours. This will ensure you gain plenty of real-world driving experience before you start driving professionally.

6. How quickly you can schedule your CDL test.

Once you’ve started your CDL training, you’ll probably be excited to schedule your CDL test so you can hit the road.

However, you’ll want to keep in mind that many states require drivers who have just obtained their Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) to wait at least 14 days or more before taking their road test.

Drivers can often schedule their CDL skills test through their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or through one of the following third-party organizations:

  • Other states.
  • Employers.
  • Private driver training facilities.
  • Private institutions.
  • Government agencies.

Each of these third-party organizations may have their own timeline for scheduling CDL testing. So, it’s a good idea to check what is available in your state or contact your local driving school to determine how long it will take to schedule your CDL test.

Let Schneider cover the cost of your CDL.

Are you interested in getting your CDL but are worried about the cost? Schneider offers a variety of company-paid CDL training programs and tuition reimbursement options to help new drivers pay for their CDL training.

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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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