The trucking industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and the need for new drivers is greater than ever. According to the American Trucking Association, there will be a shortage of well over 160,000 drivers by 2030.
Now is the time to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and start gaining experience. However, finding the right online CDL school can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. Learning key tips and tricks will put you one step ahead of the game.
Luckily, we have you covered. Keep reading this guide to learn six essential factors to consider when choosing a CDL school.
1. Check Online Reviews and Testimonials
One of the first things you need to do is get a good idea of the reputation of the truck driving school you’re considering. A little bit of online research goes a long way. It gives you more insight into the school and what it’s all about.
Your first step should be reading Google reviews to understand how current and former students feel about their schooling experience.
You should also check the CDL school’s website for testimonials from students.
Finally, when looking at online CDL classes, you must ensure the program you choose is approved in your state. It’s essential that you’re able to contact a live person easily by phone or email.
2. Ensure There Are a Variety of Courses
Once you find a reputable program, you’ll need to look at the types of courses they offer.
First, federal law requires that you take Entry Level Driver’s Training (ELDT) before you get your CDL. This regulation applies to anyone wanting their first CDL after February 7, 2022.
ELDT applies to anybody who:
- Wants to get their first Class A or B
- Needs to upgrade their Class B to a Class A
- Wants their first passenger or school bus endorsement
- Wants an initial hazardous materials (H) endorsement
Ideally, you’ll need a school that offers ELDT along with Class A and B CDL training.
Class A CDL
Class A CDL training is for anybody who needs to drive multiple vehicles with a GVWR or gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,001 pounds. This includes towed units weighing over 10,000 pounds. With a Class A CDL, you’ll be driving 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, fuel tankers, or tractor-trailers.
Class B CDL
A Class B CDL is required for anyone that needs to operate a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight over 26,0001 pounds. This includes towing vehicles that don’t exceed 10,000 pounds. A Class B CDL is for anybody that needs to drive large trucks like dump trucks, garbage trucks, or delivery trucks.
It’s also smart to look for other CDL classes, like a Hazmat course that prepares you for the Hazmat endorsement test. A Passenger course is helpful to bundle with your CDL course if you want to take a Passenger Endorsement test to transport passengers.
This way, you can return to the same CDL training school to upgrade your skills later.
3. Look for a Comprehensive Training Program
Be sure to evaluate CDL training programs to ensure you get a comprehensive training program that prepares you for CDL testing.
For example, courses should include lessons about basic operations, which involve learning the control systems dashboard. This course also teaches you the basics of pre-and post-trip inspections, backing, and docking. Reading road signs, maps, and log book management are also included.
Safe operating procedures are also crucial. You should have training in speed management, night operation, and distracted driving.
Overall, classroom theory should prepare you well for when you have behind-the-wheel training. This will allow you to start truck driving confidently and work toward the job you want.
4. Consider the Costs
Even though paying for your CDL training is an investment in your career, you’ll still need to look carefully at the costs.
It’s essential to realize that a quality truck driving school doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, OnlineCDLCourse.com offers training approved in all 50 states and meets the requirements for ELDT.
You’ll also be well prepared for behind-the-wheel training (BTW).
At OnlineCDLCourse.com, both Class A and Class B ELDT courses are $125. A Hazmat Endorsement ELDT Course will cost you $50, and you can take a Passenger Endorsement ELDT Course for $75. These courses are approximately one-third the price compared to other online ELDT courses.
5. Ensure You Have What You Need During the Course
When taking an online CDL training course, you’ll be working at your own pace. This means you won’t have CDL trainers teaching you in person. But this doesn’t mean you won’t be successful.
Be sure that the online school offers both Class A and B courses recorded by a real person. It’s best to have options to either read or listen to the course on your own time. Having helpful videos throughout your course is also necessary.
Of course, you will need support sometimes, so you must ensure you have access to a support person when you need them.
Finally, it’s wise to find a program that offers assistance in finding a BTW training provider if you don’t have access to one.
6. Look for an FMCSA Approved Training Provider
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has an online database with a list of training providers meeting federal safety standards. This ensures that entry-level drivers get the training they need to drive safely on the road.
To be FMCSA-approved, trucking schools must register online and submit a training certification. They must also have both theory and behind-the-wheel training courses that meet the approved curriculum. This includes courses like orientation, basic operation, and basic control.
This is a critical part of looking for a truck driving school, so you must double-check that the school you choose is FMCSA approved.
Typically, you’ll see this information on the CDL school’s website. If you don’t see this, don’t be afraid to ask the school directly. You can also check online on the FMCSA’s training provider registry.
Remember, the last thing you want to do is waste your on a course that doesn’t meet the federal requirements.
Sign Up for CDL School Today
Now that you know what factors to consider when choosing a CDL school, finding a program that works for you will be much easier.
If you’re looking for a reputable online CDL school with self-paced classes, you can turn to OnlineCDLCourse.com for all your needs. We offer various courses like Class A and B CDL ELDT Courses, as well as Passenger and Hazmat Endorsement ELDT courses.
We’re an FMCSA-approved training provider and offer training in all 50 states. We’ll also help you get the BTW training you need.
Make sure to contact us today with questions, concerns, or help with enrolling in classes!