What's the Fastest Way to Get a CDL?

What’s the Fastest Way to Get a CDL?

You can get your Class A license in five weeks. A reputable school is the fastest way to get there.

There Are Five Basic Ways to Get a Commercial License:

1. Truck Driving School

A reputable school will guide you through the entire process. The school will arrange for your medical exam. Their classroom instruction will get you through the DMV written tests, help you get your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), and help you pass the written endorsement tests. At the end of the process, they will bring truck company recruiters in to speak with you and arrange interviews.

If you need help paying for tuition, your school will arrange financing with a third-party finance company.

When it is time for your DMV road test, the school will provide a tractor/trailer for two attempts at passing the road test. If you need additional attempts to pass the road test, they will rent you the tractor/trailer at a discount rate.

The entire process, from walking into the school to working, takes about eight weeks:

  • 5 weeks to get the CDL
  • 1 week extra, because nothing goes quite to plan
  • 2 weeks to arrange for a job and report in

2. Community College Training

A handful of community colleges have a truck driving school attached to the college. This is a regular driving program. At the end of the program, you get a CDL. These are often part of a vocational program, and you might be eligible for some college credit. Some of these programs have bizarre training schedules. However, the cost of a community college program might be lower (much lower) than paying for traditional driving school out of pocket. Check with your local community colleges. If you can make their training schedule fit your schedule, you might be able to save a lot of money.

3. Bus Company Training

If a bus company hires you, they will train you to drive a bus. The license that a bus company helps you get won’t be a Class A license, it will be a Class B license, with a Passenger (P) endorsement and/or a School Bus (S) endorsement.

4. Employer Training

If you are already working for a company as an equipment operator, the company may elect to pay for training so you can move the equipment on trucks. This training might be informal training, taught by a senior driver.

Remember: When deciding which license to get, a Class A license is much more useful than a Class B license. Refer to our blog called Which CDL License Should I Get? for specifics about this.

5. Train Here/Work Here

Some less-than-reputable trucking companies have a program called “Train Here/Work Here”. Be very careful what you are signing up for. Most allow you two attempts to pass the road test. If you don’t pass the road test on the second attempt, you are expelled from the school. At that point, you have wasted five weeks, don’t have a CDL, don’t have a job, and you still owe the trucking company for the school. Consider every option before signing the paperwork for this.

Fastest versus Best

A truck driving school will usually be the fastest way to get your CDL. However, perhaps one of these other methods will be a better fit for you. Whatever way you choose, driving can be a profitable living. It is usually interesting, sometimes frustrating, but rarely boring.

The Importance of Studying for your CDL

No matter what route you decide to take, the process will be delayed if you don’t prepare for the testing portion in advance. No matter how good you are at driving a commercial vehicle, you won’t be able to get your CDL unless you can pass the written portion of the exam. Read study guides and any material provided by your school to understand what you need to know for the test. Test your knowledge before the exam with flashcards and practice tests. The effort you put into studying before test day can save you from the wasted time and money involved with a failed exam.

Good luck, use your seatbelt, remain calm, and keep the truck “clean side up”.


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