Making the decision to become an Over the Road (OTR) truck driver is a big step, and like all trades, driving requires training and education. There are choices to make, like where do you want to go to school? Are you going to need endorsements for the company you want to work for? And, how are you going to pay for this training?
In this article, you will find the resources you need to help make these decisions and what you can expect it to cost. But no matter what, don’t get discouraged by the price of getting your Class A CDL. This article will cover alternative routes to pay for your training, and what income you can expect when you get on the road!
Class A CDL Fees
Each state has their own set of requirements and fees for obtaining a Class A CDL , more in depth descriptions can be found on the CDL Requirements page.
- Knowledge Test - expect to pay between $5 and $20, this often includes the issuance of a Commercial Learners Permit, although some states have separate fees for the test and CLP.
- Road Skills Test - expect to pay between $30 and $60, some states may charge more for endorsements.
- Standard CDL License - expect to pay between $75 and $100, some states do charge more.
- Endorsements - expect to pay between $5 and $10 for each endorsement, which can include additional knowledge and skills exams.
Other costs can include application fees, drug screenings, fingerprint and background checks for HAZMAT Endorsements (typically $100), and re-test fees. Below you will find a couple examples of costs broken down by state.
New York Class A CDL Fees
- Commercial Learner’s Permit - $10
- Road Test - $40
- Standard Class A CDL - $164.50
- Endorsements - $5 each
Kentucky Class A CDL Fees
- CDL Application - $24
- Commercial Learner’s Permit - $11
- Skills and Testing Fees - $50 if a Kentucky driver’s license has been held for more than 30 days, or $150 if a Kentucky driver’s license has been held for less than 30 days.
- Standard Class A CDL - $40
- Endorsements - $11
Choosing a Truck Driving School
Part of preparing to get your Class A CDL is deciding on a school. Not every state requires attending a school, but it is highly encouraged. States that do not require official training may require you to possess your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) for a longer period of time.
There are two main types of truck driving schools you can attend, private schools or paid CDL training programs.
What to Expect from a Private School with CDL Training
Schools vary on how training courses are conducted, from the amount of time (typically measured in weeks and hours), cost, and whether day or night classes are offered. Private schools will also offer college credits, or a certificate, upon completing their program. Below is a list of what you can look for and expect from a school.
- Minimum of 4 weeks of training with some training programs going up to 12 weeks.
- Between 100 and 400 hours of training which is split between classroom and behind the wheel time.
- Classroom instruction covering safety precautions, regulations, maintaining records, and other valuable tools to pass the knowledge exam.
- Behind the wheel time on a driving range, highway, interstate , village and city driving as well as day and night driving to prepare you for your road skills exam.
You can find more information on specific schools in your area and what they offer on Trucking Truth’s School Directory page. Here, you can find schools and training program options broken down by state, and discover admission requirements for each school.
Cost Of Private Schooling
Tuition cost varies for each school, the important thing to remember is to do your research on the schools in your area and find the program that best fits your needs. Tuition can range from $1,000 to $5,000 and may include additional costs for materials, drug screenings, permit test and a physical.
What to expect from a Paid CDL Training School
Paid CDL Training Schools are owned and operated by trucking companies. These benefit new drivers because there is little to no cost up front, and you will be able to start working as soon as you complete the program. Discover the path that’s right for you by browsing through companies that offer paid CDL training.
Drivers can expect to fulfill a commitment to the the trucking company upon completion of the program (typically 8 months to one year). Some trucking companies may require new recruits to make tuition payments after the program has been completed.
Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth
Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:
Also, read the article Why I Prefer Paid CDL Training to learn more about the advantages in choosing this path.
Tuition Reimbursement and Veteran Grants
Good trucking companies offer tuition reimbursement in exchange for a commitment to that company upon completion. You may also find that school billing departments are willing to work with students going through these programs. This is a great opportunity to get behind the wheel with little out-of-pocket expenses.
It’s a good idea to look into companies you want to work for before you decide on a school, this helps you plan for what you’ll need as a driver and what you can expect from that company. For example, TMC offers tuition reimbursement for up to $6,000 of your CDL training loan. Payments are made monthly beginning 30 days after your hire date and continue for as long as you are actively employed with TMC as an OTR driver.
Veterans often qualify for school grants, covering tuition and helping retired military personnel start an OTR Career. Grants vary from school to school, but resources such as Troops to Truckers help veterans discover the options available.
Truck Driving Career Opportunities
With all the talk of cost, it’s important to look at what’s on the other side. The average Class A CDL truck driver makes about $45,000 a year, and teams can make about $82,000 a year. It’s Important to note that some schools offer career placement programs, which can help get you on the road faster.
According to CNBC, there is a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers. So the opportunity is out there, if you’re willing to go for it. It is important to note that rookie drivers may have a harder time finding a job due to liabilities associated with new drivers. Because of this, choosing a school with career placement, contacting a company for tuition reimbursement, or arranging an agreement with a Paid CDL Training Program can help you get on the road faster and have some job security.
With any career, being a truck driver takes commitment and dedication, it’s important to do your research on the schools and companies in your area to know the path thats best for you.