How much does CDL training cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does CDL training cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does CDL training cost?

$3,000 – $8,000 average cost (private company)
$1,000 – $6,000 average cost (community college or technical institute)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$3,000 – $8,000 average cost (private company)

$1,000 – $6,000 average cost (community college or technical institute)


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tara Farmer
Written by
Tara Farmer
Edited by
Jennifer Carlson
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Kristen Cramer

CDL classes cost

CDL training costs $3,000 to $8,000 on average through a private trucking company or independent CDL school. CDL courses cost less at a community college or technical school, typically $1,000 to $6,000 total. Truck driving school costs also depend on your state, the school, and the specific program you choose.

CDL school cost by type
Type Average tuition cost
Trucking school company $3,000 – $8,000
Community or technical college $1,000 – $6,000

  • CDL stands for commercial driver's license. This special license allows employees to operate commercial vehicles, including 18-wheeler trucks or buses.

  • The cost of a CDL learner's permit (CLP or CDP) ranges from $10 to $50, depending on the state. You'll need this permit for any on-road CDL training.

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) requires all new truck drivers to complete Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT). This requirement also applies when upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL or applying for a school bus, passenger, or hazardous materials endorsement.

What is required to start CDL driving classes?

To begin CDL training, you typically need a valid driver's license, a clean driving record, and the ability to pass a physical exam and drug test. Some training programs require you to have a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) prior to your first class.

Get free estimates from driving schools near you.

CDL license cost

After completing your CDL training, you'll need to obtain your actual CDL from your state's licensing agency. The cost of the CDL license itself varies by state but is generally between $50 and $100. Some states also charge a $10 to $50 license application fee.

Truck driving school cost factors

The cost of CDL training is typically higher than the cost of driving school for a standard driver's license. However, several other factors also impact the overall cost:

  • Location: While the FMCSA regulations provide a nationwide baseline for CDL training requirements, state-wide requirements vary, as well as the associated costs.

  • Program length: Most CDL training programs are 80 to 160 hours. As one might expect, longer programs typically cost more.

  • School reputation: Established schools with a good track record may charge more.

  • Equipment quality: Schools with modern trucks and training equipment may have higher fees.

  • Public school vs. private company: Taking CDL courses through community colleges or public technical schools typically costs less than training programs offered through private trucking companies.

  • Financial assistance: Many CDL schools offer financial assistance, grants, or scholarships. Some CDL courses qualify for assistance through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Military benefits:

    • For eligible veterans, the GI Bill can help cover CDL training, testing, and monthly housing costs during the program.

    • The Military Skills Test Waiver program lets military personnel apply for a CDL without taking the driving skills test, provided they have qualifying experience.

No-cost CDL training

Some private companies offer no-cost training, paid training, or tuition reimbursement when you sign a contract to work for them for a specified period after your training. Most contracts range from 9 to 36 months. Research schools thoroughly to make sure you're getting the proper training needed for the job you want.

Class A vs. Class B vs. Class C

The type of CDL you pursue significantly impacts the cost of training. Training for a Class A CDL costs the most but offers a larger job market and higher salary potential after training. The following table details each CDL type and its average training cost:

CDL classification comparison
CDL type Average tuition cost Typical duration (hours) Required for
Class A $3,500 – $8,000 160+
  • Tractor-trailers (aka semi, big rig, or 18-wheeler)
  • Double and triple trailers
  • Tankers
  • Flatbeds
  • Livestock carriers
  • Most Class B and Class C vehicles*
Class B $2,500 – $5,000 50 – 80+
  • Straight trucks
  • Box trucks, including delivery trucks and furniture trucks
  • Dump trucks with small trailers
  • Some Class C vehicles*
Class C $1,500 – $3,000 36 – 40+
  • Airport shuttles
  • School buses
  • Passenger vans for 16+ people (including the driver)
  • HazMat vehicles

*Depending on endorsement requirements.

All states issue CDLs and CDPs according to the following Federal classification standards:

  • Class A: Any vehicle combination with a total gross weight of 11,794+ kg (26,001+ lbs.), including towed unit(s) that weighs more than 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs.).

  • Class B: Any single vehicle with a gross weight of 11,794+ kg (26,001+ lbs.), or any such vehicle towing another vehicle that weighs up to 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs.).

  • Class C: Any vehicle or vehicle combination that doesn't fall under Class A or Class B, but seats 16+ people including the driver, or for transporting placarded amounts of hazardous materials or any amount of material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.

Endorsements

In addition to the base CDL training cost, endorsement training fees range from $50 to $500 each. Endorsements allow you to transport certain types of cargo and drive specialized vehicles. While the types and specific requirements vary from state to state, common endorsements include:

  • H / HME: Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) transport

  • N: Tanker truck operator

  • P: Passenger transport

  • S: School bus transport

  • T: Double or triple trailers

  • X: H & T combined (HAZMAT & Tanker truck)

HAZMAT endorsement cost

The Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) has more complex requirements than others due to the danger and high liability of loading, transporting, and unloading hazardous cargo. However, the extra fees you may pay to get the endorsement open the door to more and higher-paying job opportunities.

  • To obtain an HME, the federal government requires you to pass a background check by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), also called the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program. The application fee for this alone is $86.50.

  • Additional costs range from $50 to $400 and typically include fingerprinting, training, testing, and service or processing fees. HME endorsement also requires renewal every 5 years or sooner, depending on the state.

Additional fees

Beyond tuition, additional fees associated with CDL training can add hundreds or thousands to your total cost. Depending on your state, the school, the specific training program you choose, and how close it is to where you live, some or all the following extra fees may apply:

Additional CDL fees
Fee type Average cost
CDL learner's permit $10 – $50
DOT physical exam $60 – $150
Drug testing $40 – $95
Textbooks & other materials $100 – $500
Truck rental for exam $50 – $150
State CDL exam $100 – $375
CDL license application processing $0 – $50
CDL state license $50 – $100
Endorsements (state fee) $5 – $10 each*
Travel expenses varies

*Not including any associated training or testing fees to qualify for the endorsement.

A big-rig truck driving on a highway
A big-rig truck driving on a highway

What to expect from a CDL training course

Most comprehensive CDL training programs include both classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training to prepare you for all phases of the CDL exam.

  • Classroom instruction covers topics like pre-trip inspection, safety regulations and procedures, and load security.

  • Behind-the-wheel training provides hands-on experience with various vehicle types, basic controls, air brakes, backing maneuvers, and on-road driving skills.

Get free estimates from driving schools near you.

Quality programs also offer job placement assistance and may provide financing options.

FAQs about CDL training

How long are CDL classes?

Most CDL training programs consist of 80 to 160+ hours of instruction, divided between classroom and behind-the-wheel training. However, some schools offer more comprehensive programs of up to 600 hours, providing much more on-road training. Class A CDL courses are typically longer than Class B training programs.

How long does it take to get your CDL license?

The length of time required to obtain a CDL license depends on your state's requirements, the educational path you choose, and whether you add endorsements. Most CDL training programs take 4 to 8 weeks.

  • Some states have a 14-day waiting period after you obtain your learner's permit before you can take the CDL exam.

  • The HAZMAT endorsement requires a background check and fingerprinting, which can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on your location.

How much do truck drivers make?

Truck drivers make $45,000 to $65,000 per year on average, depending on the state, CDL Class, cargo type, route, and company. However, CDL driver income potential increases with experience. New drivers often start with below average pay, while the rate for a highly experienced driver can reach six figures in some areas.

Can you get financial aid for truck driving school?

Some CDL training programs, particularly those offered through public institutions, may qualify for federal financial aid. Many private trucking companies also offer tuition reimbursement or financing options.

Is truck driving school required to get a CDL license?

As of February 7, 2022, the FMCSA requires all drivers applying for a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time to complete a comprehensive Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) program through a registered training provider before taking the CDL skills test.

Even before this federal requirement, most trucking companies preferred or required their applicants to have formal training from an accredited CDL program. The new ELDT rule raises the bar for entry-level training but aligns with industry best practices for thoroughly preparing new drivers.

How to choose a truck driving school

Before researching truck driving schools near you, get a copy of your state's CDL manual and familiarize yourself with the licensing process and requirements. Then, follow these guidelines to determine which one is right for you:

  • Consider not only cost, but program length, job placement assistance, and the school's reputation and accreditation.

  • Look for a school with a low trainer-to-student ratio that allows for personalized instruction.

  • Confirm they are listed in the FMCSA Training Provider Registry.

  • Look for positive reviews from previous students on Lessons and Google.

  • Ask for a tour so you can check out the condition of their training equipment.

  • Make sure the program aligns with your schedule and availability.

  • Ask about their accreditations and their pass rate for the licensing exam.

Questions to ask a potential CDL school

Ask the following questions when speaking with potential CDL training providers to help you select a program that both fits your budget and provides the comprehensive education needed to succeed in this in-demand field:

  • Is this an FMCSA-registered training program?

  • What experience and qualifications do the instructors have?

  • What is the student-to-instructor ratio?

  • What is the total cost, including tuition, fees, and any additional expenses?

  • What financing or payment plan options are available?

  • How many hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training are included?

  • What is your student pass rate for the CDL exams?

  • Do you provide job placement assistance or have partnerships with trucking companies?

  • What is the condition and age of the equipment and vehicles?

  • Can I complete any portion of the program online?

  • Does the program satisfy the FMCSA ELDT requirements?

  • Do you offer any additional endorsements or certifications?


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