The ultimate guide to the top CDL schools

December 20, 2021 Christina DeBusk

Two male truck drivers in blue hats, at a top CDL school and looking at a clipboard

You’ve decided that you want to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) but aren’t sure which school to attend to learn the skills necessary to obtain this designation. Certainly, there are many factors to consider, some of which include the quality of the training, the cost, the hours involved and more.

To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top CDL schools in the nation. They are:

Sage Truck Driving Schools

Sage Truck Driving Schools has 23 locations across the U.S., from Florida to New York to Washington to Texas. It offers three training programs:

  • Comprehensive Tractor-Trailer Driver Training – for students with no prior knowledge or experience in truck driving; 150-160 hours of instruction over 4-5 weeks
  • Commercial Driver’s License Essentials – for students with no or minimal driving experience; includes classroom instruction, labs, and driving time on both a practice range and public roads
  • Advanced Class A CDL Training – for students with some experience or training; 80 hours of instruction with 30 hours drive time over 2-3 weeks

Sage’s student-to-truck ratio is one-to-one and it offers classes both during the day and at night. If you need help covering the cost of training, financing options are available.

To apply, you must have a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license with a driving record that contains no serious violations, a DOT physical and be able to pass a drug screen.

Roadmaster Drivers School

Roadmaster Drivers School has 17 locations nationwide, with options in Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Nebraska and more. It offers one CDL course which, upon completion, provides the qualifications needed to earn your Class A CDL license.

At Roadmaster, you will complete 180 training hours. This training begins in the classroom and covers topics such as basic vehicle safety, hazard awareness and pre-trip inspections. Next is driving training, which includes working on your backing skills and real-world driving.

To qualify, you need a valid driver’s license and must be able to pass a drug screen. Financing is available if needed (and if you qualify). The school also provides access to recruiters from trucking companies to discuss opportunities available, in addition to providing job placement assistance through its Career Services division.

HDS Truck Driving Institute

HDS Truck Driving Institute offers accredited CDL training in Tucson, Arizona. You can choose between two different training programs:

  • Class A & B License CDL Training Program – a more comprehensive training program that includes both classroom and yard training; also includes three endorsements: tank, doubles/triples and hazardous material
  • Class B License CDL Driver Training Program – complete your training in just four weeks; includes classroom instruction, yard training and hands-on road training; includes a passenger endorsement

Daytime, evening and weekend classes are available. After completing a CDL training program at HDS, you can do a paid externship with a qualified trucking company (if you qualify). Financial aid is available and the school offers job placement and career planning assistance.

To apply, you must be at least 21-years-old by the time the training is complete if you want an interstate license or 18 if you want an intrastate license, possess a high school diploma or GED and have at least one consecutive year of driving experience with a standard operator’s license.

Midwest Technical Institute

Midwest Technical Institute is another accredited school that offers CDL training. This program is provided at its Springfield, Missouri location. It takes 20 days to complete and includes 168 hours of training (40 in the classroom, 16 on the range, 16 over-the-road, and 96 hours of remedial training).

Both daytime and evening classes are available and, in addition to obtaining the skills necessary to earn your CDL, you will also learn more about defensive driving, shipping and receiving, and life on the road.

Financial assistance is not available for the CDL training course offered by Midwest. Application requirements are not provided on the institute’s website.

Questions to ask before choosing a CDL school

If you’re looking for the best CDL school for you, it helps to do your research before making your final decision. Look at the school’s website and social media pages, read reviews from others who’ve attended that school and make sure it provides the schooling you want.

To help with this, here are a few questions you may want to answer:

  • Is the school accredited?
  • Is the school certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute or Commercial Vehicle Training Association?
  • How long is the program?
  • What is the drive time?
  • What is the student-to-truck ratio?
  • How old are the trucks?
  • What is the cost?
  • Is financing available?
  • Does the school help with post-graduation job placement?

The more you know about the school and what it offers, the greater your ability to decide the best school for you! 

Interested in driving for Centerline? Learn more about our company or check out our open jobs here. 

About the Author

Christina M. DeBusk creates small business content for a variety of publications, some of which include Businessing Magazine, Compendent, Chiropractic Economics, and more. She is also the author behind the column, "The Successful Solopreneur.

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