FAQ: Attending Private CDL School

Attending Private CDL School - Frequently Asked Questions

Should I choose a private truck driving school or a company-sponsored CDL program?

It really depends on your situation. If you can't swing the cost of tuition to a private CDL school, there are plenty of companies that will pay for your CDL training, as well as your on-the-road company training. Both will get you your CDL, but you will still have to go through company training if you attend private school.

How do I choose a truck driving school?

Generally, find a school near you that you can afford the tuition in some way, that offers a course at least 160 hours long, and that you have verified that multiple companies are willing to hire from.

What are pre-hire letters?

Your "pre-hire" letter simply verifies that you appear to meet the minimum qualifications for hire at a particular trucking company, and usually gets you an invite to their orientation for a closer look. If you attend private CDL school, it will be in your best interest to pre-apply to any companies that hire from that school.

Can I get my CDL without going to school or a company-sponsored program?

Technically, yes, you can. However, most medium-to-large companies won't hire drivers, especially inexperienced ones, without some kind of formalized schooling or training, along with a certificate verifying that you attended a course that was at least 160 hours.

How much does truck driving school cost?

Usually somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 - $7,000, depending on the length of the school and market.

How will I pay for truck driving school?

There are a variety of ways. Cash, credit card, WIOA grants, personal loans, financing through the school, or student loans.

Are there any grants available to pay for CDL school?

Sometimes, yes. There are federal grants for eligible applicants available through the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), and various states may also offer their own programs. Contact your state Department Of Labor for more information.

Can I get a student loan for truck driving school?

Sometimes. You will only be eligible for a Federal Student Load if the schooling is a minimum length of time, and if your school participates in the federal student load program.

What should I bring to CDL school?

Most of the time, you will live in the general area of the school and commute back and forth, so your list won't be very long. The school will have specific requirements, but generally it will be all of your identification and verification paperwork (initially), notebooks, pens, etc., and dress for the weather.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


WIOA - Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (aka WIA)

Formerly known as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the WIOA was established in 1998 to prepare youth, adults and dislocated workers for entry and reentry into the workforce. WIOA training funds are designed to serve laid-off individuals, older youth and adults who are in need of training to enter or reenter the labor market. A lot of truck drivers get funding for their CDL training through WIOA.


What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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