Can You Get a CDL License Without Going To School?

May 14, 2022

When you consider the cost of attending a truck driving school and the time it takes to complete the course, you may begin to wonder if it’s worth it. Maybe you also know that all you need to drive a truck in the United States is the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and not a truck driving school certificate. 

All these may lead you to ask, “can you get a CDL without going to school?”

Yes, you can get a CDL without going to a driving school. All you need to get your CDL is to pass some knowledge and skills tests. But you’ll need more than a CDL to become a professional truck driver.

While that answer is the most straightforward answer to the question, it is incomplete. And we wouldn’t have you leave here without knowing what you’re getting into if you're opting for a CDL without a driving school.

Trucker Daily is a proud partner of one of the top CDL Training schools in the country.  Click here to read about their amazing FMCSA certified training programs valid in all 50 states!

Should You Get a CDL Without Going To School?

We’ve established that you can get a CDL without attending a truck driving school. But should you take this path? Should you get a CDL without going to school?

Unless you don’t plan to work for a trucking company, you shouldn’t get a CDL without having a driving school certificate in your hands. Most trucking companies want to know that you’ve had at least 160 hours of classroom sessions on handling a truck before entrusting you with their trucks.

Although you can also learn truck driving independently, you would have no certificate to prove it. And it is that certificate that serves as proof to trucking companies that you’re as good as you claim to be.

However, it’s a different story if you’re getting the CDL to drive your truck for personal reasons. As long as you have a CDL, you can take your truck to wherever you want in the United States.

The Benefits of Attending a Truck Driving School

Truck driving schools are not just where you get certificates to show your potential employers that you can drive a truck. You can glean other benefits from experienced instructors that can be very useful to you in your trucking career. Some of these benefits are:

1. Immense Learning Opportunities

Reputable truck driving schools prepare you for many instances you could encounter on the road. For instance, you would learn about:

  • Inspections 
  • Environmental compliance issues
  • Coupling and decoupling
  • Extreme driving conditions
  • Diagnosis of malfunctions
  • Backing and docking
  • Space management
  • Off-the-road truck driver needs
  • How to operate various CMVs such as tanker vehicles, hazmat vehicles, dump trucks, etc.
  • Emergency protocol
  • And so much more. 

2. Significantly Increased Chances of Landing a Job

Trucking companies want to hire truck drivers who are not complete newbies. A CDL and a driving school certificate are what take you from being a complete newbie to being an employable newbie. Without a driving school certificate, getting a trucking job with a trucking company is a long shot.

Even if a company wanted to hire you without a CDL driving school certificate, their insurance contract might stand in the way. There are usually clauses in insurance contracts that mandate the company to hire truck drivers with a structured learning experience. 

Truck Driving Schools for CDL come at a cost, but can benefit you financially in the long run.

How Much Is A Truck Driving School?

If you think you want to attend a driving school, you should know how much it costs. 

Most CDL truck driving schools charge $3000 to $7000 for four to five training weeks at 40 hours per week. Some CDL truck driving schools go as high as $10,000, though.

In order to ensure you pass your test.  We recommend you enroll in one of our partners certified classes.  You can find out more information on this page


Getting a CDL gives you the legal right to be behind the steering wheel. However, a driving school certificate gives your employers the confidence that you know what you’re doing behind the wheel. And unless you don’t plan to drive for a trucking company, you may need to complete a minimum of 160 hours of driving school training before you can drive a truck professionally.

About the author

I’m Luis Uribe, author of this website. I am the owner and head publisher for Trucker Daily and a freight brokerage Total Connection Logistics. I have been in and around the trucking industry for over 15 years. It is my mission with Trucker daily to equip truck drivers, with the latest in industry updates, news, and helpful tips to help further your trucking career and life. Whether you are a truck driving veteran, or beginner, you will find information on this site to save you a lot of time in your driving journey.

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