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How to Choose a Driving School

Drivers wishing to operate commercial vehicles must acquire a Commercial Driver's License, or CDL. A number of schools offer training programs that equip students with the knowledge and skills required to obtain this license. Read on to find out what to look for when shopping for a driving school.

Before even considering a CDL, students must have a standard driver's license. Once they have this, students can then apply for admission to a training program. Given the specific nature of the CDL, training programs are often dedicated to a single type of vehicle, such as a truck or bus.

Schools with CDL Training Programs

Here is a sampling of schools across the country that offer CDL training programs. Program costs are for 2017 unless noted otherwise.

School Location Institution Type Program Costs
Orange Technical College - Mid Florida 2-year, public Orlando, FL $896, Florida resident; $3,580.80, non-resident*
Amarillo College Amarillo, TX 2-year, public $3,690*
Bainbridge State College Bainbridge, GA 4-year, public $1,648, Georgia resident; $2,773, non-resident (2017)*
Big Bend Community College Moses Lake, WA 2-year, public $4,529.26*
Atlanta Technical College Atlanta, GA 2-year, public $1,779*
Blackfeet Community College Browning, MT 2-year, private $2,890 (2015-16)**
Fort Scott Community College Fort Scott, KS 2-year, public $1,552, Kansas resident; $2,000, border state resident; $2,448, other state resident*
Elgin Community College Elgin, IL 2-year, public $2,000, in-district; $6,944, other Illinois resident*
North Arkansas College Harrison, AR 2-year, public $1,800*

Source: *School websites, **NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Students looking to obtain their commercial driver's license should take the following factors into account as they search for the best program for their needs:

  • In addition to knowledge and skill, drivers must also meet medical requirements, so students should ensure that they have no lingering health issues that could prevent them from obtaining their license.
  • Requirements vary from state to state. Students should research the requirements for their home state and ensure that training programs will prepare them adequately.
  • Drivers should consider which type of vehicle they wish to drive. The CDL has three classes with specialized requirements for specific vehicles such as tractor trailers, school buses, other passenger vehicles or tank trucks.

Program Information

Regardless of which vehicle a program focuses on, commercial driving training programs provide instruction in the basic principles and skills related to the operation of commercial vehicles. These are typically short-term programs that lead to a certificate. Admissions requirements are not particularly strict; students will need a high school education and must be over a certain age (16 in some states, 18 in others). Students with college credits may be able to earn transfer credits.

To recap, CDL training teaches students to drive commercial vehicles, and possession of a standard driver's license is a key prerequisite. Many two-year schools across the country have CDL programs, but each may specialize in training for a particular type of vehicle.

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