Are you thinking about becoming a CDL driver? You’re on the right track, as the US’s trucking shortage hit an all-time high last year and is just beginning to cool off.
Fortunately, that cool-off is a result of better working conditions, higher pay, and more benefits you can enjoy with a CDL license. Still, you will have to pay for the course and pass the exam.
So, how much does it cost to get a CDL, and is it worth it? Let’s find out!
Types of CDL Classes
The most common types of CDL classes are a CDL Class A license, which is considered the “universal” CDL, and a CDL Class B license, covering a more limited selection of vehicles.
CDL-B can operate straight trucks, large passenger buses, segmented buses, box trucks, smaller dump trucks, and tractor-trailers weighing less than 26,001 pounds.
CDL-A licenses allow licensees to operate large commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers, and anything a CDL-B driver can drive (with appropriate endorsements). Class A drivers can also receive endorsements for passenger vehicles (such as school buses) or hazardous material transportation.
For these reasons and more, Class A CDL licenses are the most common in the US by far, with over 1.1 million current licensees. Effectively, it opens the most doors for your driving career.
Benefits of Becoming a CDL Driver
Now that you know the different types of CDLs, let’s talk about some of the benefits of becoming a CDL driver. Here are the most common reasons people enter the industry.
Truck drivers don’t usually work the “normal” nine-to-five schedule. Depending on your job, you could have plenty of flexibility. Truckers operate at all hours of the day, so finding work with your preferred schedule is not too challenging.
Also, if you work independently as an owner-operator, then you could have all the freedom in the world to work when you choose. You’ll just have to find the right customers who are flexible, and they exist!
This way, if you want to work overnight, you certainly can. If you like getting everything done early in the morning so you can enjoy your day, there is work available. Whether you like to sleep in, work Monday through Friday, or whatever your preferences are, there are trucking jobs that will fit your needs.
Many truck drivers, especially long-haul truck drivers, get to travel and see the world. This is especially true if you live in North America. Oregon and Maine may be in the same country, but you’ll feel as if you drove through 5 or 6 different lands between them!
In most cases, your travel expenses will be covered entirely by your employer. You may need to pay to eat out occasionally, but your lodging should be covered by your employer. If you like to explore, this is a great job for you!
High Salaries and Benefits
While every job is different, most CDL drivers can expect relatively high pay for only having a certificate. Many truck drivers earn comparable salaries to those with bachelor’s or even master’s degrees. Can you find a comparable salary with a lower barrier to entry than truck driving?
You can also receive payments in different ways. For example, you may receive a salary, hourly wage, per-mile, or per diem pay. This will depend on the job, so make sure you look for one based on your preferences.
Some truckers have a rigid work-life balance, while some have very open schedules. This really depends on your specific job.
There are truckers that will work one week on and one week off with a full-time salary. Conversely, there are also truckers who work nine-to-five Monday through Friday.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL?
If you’re interested in receiving the benefits mentioned above, then you’ll need to take a CDL course. Here’s how to get started!
Cost For Classes
CDL classes can cost between $3,000 and $7,000 on average, which is quite high for someone entering the field. Some jobs may pay for this upfront, but if you don’t have any professional driving experience, don’t expect to be hired without a CDL.
Fortunately, you can save yourself some money by taking the theory portion (classroom portion) of the CDL course online. You can take this 12-hour portion at your own pace for as little as $125.
This will save you money by not having to spend $400 or more on a week-long in-person class, so you will only need to find a course that covers behind-the-wheel training. You can get done in a couple of days, on your own time, and at your own pace, and then enroll in the hands-on portion for the remaining $3000 to $7000. Why pay an extra $400 if you don’t need to?
Exam fees vary widely by the state where you live, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than $100 in most states. Generally, the cost is between $35 and $70, with a few states closer to $100.
Retesting fees also depend on the state where you live. Some won’t charge fees, some charge discounted rates, and some require the full fee for a retest.
Get Your CDL Today
Paying for a CDL course can be overwhelming for a new driver, especially if you don’t have an employee sponsorship. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay full price. Now that you know the answer to “how much does it cost to get a CDL?”, you can see how little of a risk it really is to start your new career!
Stay up to date with our latest trucker news on our website, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help with enrollment!