How Long Does CDL Training Take?

Different models of big rigs semi trucks tractors with car hauler and refrigerator and dry van semi trailers standing in row on the truck stop industrial parking lot for the rest at twilight time

Truck Driver Institute offers the most common commercial driver’s license, which is Class A. One of the first steps to earning your CDL is deciding what type of truck driver you will be. Class A CDLs are the most popular, as they allow you to haul the same freight and drive the same trucks as a Class B in addition to heavier freights and longer hauls. Maybe you have some experience with Class B and want to expand and earn your Class A, or maybe you have no experience at all and want a change in career–either way, TDI is here to help you get certified and help you begin your truck driving career. Below you’ll find a breakdown to answer the question: how long does CDL training take?

Signing Up

Before attending CDL courses and training, it’s important to verify that you meet the basic qualifications to be a truck driver. Requirements may include age, driving record, passage of background checks, and more. These may change depending on your state, however. Before Feb. 7, 2022, each state had its own requirements. However, the FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has updated ELDT requirements. Depending on your experience, you may need to take the ELDT: entry-level driver training. This includes much of the same type of training: theory (much like general knowledge) and behind-the-wheel training. 

Some basic requirements that you’ll need to meet, though, are:

  • Be 18+ to drive within the state
  • Be 21+ to drive across state lines
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
    • Depending on your state, you may also be required to have a certain number of years of experience to be a truck driver.
  • Speak English at a sufficient level
  • Be able to provide proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency
  • Pass a DOT (Department of Transportation) physical to receive a DOT medical card
  • Pass all background checks

You may be disqualified from earning or keeping your CDL if you don’t complete or have these requirements. Other things to remember when deciding if you’d like to become a truck driver: are you comfortable spending extensive lengths of time by yourself? Are you responsible enough to maintain and care for your freight on trips? Are you able to pay attention to small details? Truck driving is a career that requires attention to small details and every moment you’re on the road. One rule for truck driving: always be more than prepared!


Once you’ve figured out if you’re prepared and qualified to become a truck driver and earn your CDL, you can sign up and attend orientation! At TDI, our CDL orientation prepares you to take the written and practical exams and use your qualifying information to get you cleared to drive by the DOT. 

First, you must undergo a drug screening and take a DOT physical exam. This is when you’ll then receive your DOT medical card clearing you for truck driving. Drug screenings are necessary because truck drivers must be at attention at all times when driving–even in school. The physical exam certificate is valid for 24 months. Second, you’ll receive general knowledge training pertaining to the CDL. This information will train you for when you finally take the written exam. During orientation, you’ll also go over sections 1, 2, and 3 of the state CDL manual; later in orientation, you’ll go over sections 5 (air brakes) and 6 (combination vehicles). Orientation will take place during one week–the same week you take your written CDL test. 

Taking Classes

Taking classes is a huge part of the CDL certification process. After all, if you don’t learn all the ins and outs of truck driving, where will you be? Still stuck at the wheel, parked in a lot! Another top thing to know about truck driving is that it involves way more than the physical act of driving. While orientation covers much of the material, your classes will also cover everything that goes into being a truck driver besides the actual driving. 

For example, maintaining your log books, hours, and service requirements is hugely necessary for the smooth driving of any truck driver. This includes You’ll also learn how to read a physical map (just in case your GPS fails!), how to plan a trip, how to navigate the Smith system, what weight scales are and staying within their legal limit, how to deal with cargo claims and other basic mechanical knowledge. 

Taking the Exam

Last but certainly not least, the final step is to take your exam! There are two components to the final CDL truck driving exam. The first is the written exam which includes general and more specific knowledge like the pre-trip inspection. These exams have federally mandated topics and questions that must be covered to create a baseline for all truck drivers. Although certain requirements differ from state to state, the Federal government does have many rules and regulations that all 50 states must adhere to. 

The other part is the practical exam, which you would have practiced in the week leading up to this. The practical exam includes a highway test, a street test, night driving, and parking. You’ll have plenty of time to practice with instructors to ensure you’re at your best in every category. Once you have completed, you’re ready to attend graduation. 

Countdown to CDL! 

But what’s the time, and how long does CDL training take? Overall, your CDL training will take approximately three weeks. The first week consists of orientation and your written exam; the second week involves practice on the driving range; the third week involves the more difficult hands-on practice; and finally, taking your CDL exam! In three weeks, you’ll be a licensed truck driver! With your skills and training, you can begin almost immediately after you earn your certification. And soon after that, with TDI’s career matching program, your truck driving career will be up and running quickly. 

Ready to Start Your CDL Training?

If you’re ready to begin your CDL training, contact us today to get started! We’ll help you begin an application and sign up for all necessary training. 


Get Started

Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!