How Long Does It Take to Get a CDL? A Comprehensive Guide

Earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) opens the door to a rewarding career in the trucking industry. With high demand for drivers, you might be eager to hit the road, but just how long does the process take? The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all, but this guide will lay out the roadmap and timeframe for obtaining your CDL.

take to get a cdl

Factors That Influence CDL Training Time

Here are the key things that will determine how quickly you obtain your CDL:

  • Type of CDL: The class of CDL determines the vehicles you’re qualified to drive. Classes A, B, and C exist, with Class A allowing you to operate the largest commercial vehicles. Higher CDL classes may require more training.
  • Training Program: Do you opt for a full-time, intensive program, or something part-time to accommodate an existing schedule? Full-time courses naturally get you licensed faster.
  • State Requirements: Licensing requirements can vary slightly by state, impacting the length of the process.
    Your Learning Pace: Everyone learns at a different speed. Some students may thrive with accelerated training, while others benefit from a slower approach.

The CDL Process: Step by Step

Let’s outline the typical steps involved in obtaining your CDL:

  • Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP):
  • First, you’ll need to pass a written knowledge test to get your CLP. This permit allows you to practice driving under supervision.
  • Studying for the written exam and the medical clearance can add some time to the beginning of the process.

CDL Training:

  • Enrollment in a CDL training program is essential. These programs usually include:
  • Classroom Training: Covers regulations, safety procedures, and vehicle operation.
  • Behind-the-Wheel Training: Practice in a training yard, gaining skills like handling, backing up, and maneuvers.
  • Road Training: On-the-road practice with a qualified instructor.

CDL Skills Test:

  • Upon completing training, you’ll take a skills test consisting of:
  • Pre-Trip Inspection: Demonstrating vehicle knowledge and safety checks.
  • Basic Controls: Skillful handling within a controlled environment.
  • On-Road Driving: Safe operation in real-world traffic.

Licensing: Passing the skills test gets you your CDL! Check your state’s DMV for processing times and specific license issuance procedures.

Estimated Timeline

  • Full-Time CDL Training: Intensive programs generally last 3-7 weeks, making this the fastest path to getting your CDL.
  • Part-Time CDL Training: Part-time options accommodate those needing flexible schedules but expect these programs to take several months.


Do I need any experience to get my CDL?

No, most CDL schools don’t require prior driving experience.

How much does CDL training cost?

Program costs vary, generally ranging from $3,000-$7,000. Financial aid or tuition reimbursement through trucking companies may be available.

What are the prerequisites for getting a CDL?

  • Must be at least 18 years old (21 for interstate driving).
  • Have a valid driver’s license.
  • Pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam.

Are there different types of CDL endorsements?

  • Yes, you can add endorsements to your CDL like:
  • Hazmat (hazardous materials)
  • Tankers
  • Passenger
  • School bus
  • Double/triple trailers

What are the job prospects after getting my CDL?

Excellent! Truck drivers are in high demand across the country, offering competitive salaries and potential for career growth.


Getting your CDL takes time and dedication, but it’s an investment in a promising career. While the timeline can vary, understanding the process and exploring training options helps you find the right path to success as a commercial driver.