CDL Training in Florida
Are you considering getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Florida? If you’re looking for a well-paid, in-demand career in trucking, earning a CDL license and becoming a truck driver may be the right career path for you.
This page explores the requirements for earning a CDL license in Florida, including the classes you can take, how to pay for training, and resources that can help you get started on your new career path as a commercial truck driver.
CDL A Requirements in Florida
A CDL license allows you to drive large commercial trucks. The CDL Class A license is the highest class and permits drivers to operate trucks weighing more than 26,001 pounds or towing a unit weighing over 10,000 pounds.
To earn your CDL A license in Florida, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age (21 to operate out of the state)
- Pass the vision requirement
- Have a current driver’s license
- Pass knowledge tests covering general knowledge, combination vehicles, and air brakes
- Obtain a CDL medical certification card after a DOT physical
After meeting these requirements, you can obtain a six-month learner’s permit, which allows you to practice driving under the supervision of a licensed CDL holder. If you’re not already in a program, you’ll want to enroll in CDL training to learn how to drive a commercial truck. Once you’ve completed training, you may take a skills test covering vehicle inspections, basic control, and on-road skills.
Note that the permit is good for up to six months, but you cannot take the skills test until at least 14 days have passed. Once you meet all these requirements, you’ll pay the fee to obtain your CDL license. Government employees, such as those working for schools, may receive a discount on CDL fees.
What Disqualifies You From Getting a CDL in Florida?
You may be disqualified from getting a CDL license if you don’t yet meet Florida’s CDL requirements or if you’re convicted of serious traffic violations, such as driving under the influence.
CDL holders must maintain a clean driving record and adhere to state traffic laws to operate large trucks safely. However, if you’ve been convicted of a felony or other driving-related offense, you may be disqualified from getting a CDL.
Other traffic violations may disqualify you from holding or obtaining a CDL license in Florida. For example, if you’re convicted of two of the following offenses within three years, you are no longer eligible for a CDL:
- Violating a motor traffic law that results in a death
- Reckless driving, including going more than 15 miles over the speed limit or improper lane changes
- Driving a commercial vehicle without a valid commercial driver’s license
- Texting or using a mobile phone while driving
Serious offenses, such as driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a crash, using a vehicle to commit a felony, or causing a fatality due to negligence, can also result in the revocation of your CDL if you already hold one—sometimes for a lifetime.
CDL Training Classes in Florida
A good CLD training course will cover all the skills and knowledge you need to pass the CDL skills and knowledge tests and operate a tractor-trailer safely.
The exact courses and curriculum may vary by school or course, but generally cover:
- Highway and city driving
- Turning the truck in various situations
- Operating air brakes
- Truck safety inspections
- Weight and height limits
- How to safely balance a load
- Federal regulations on breaks and driving time
- Record keeping
If you choose a company-sponsored CDL training program, you might also learn company-specific policies, such as how to fill out their paperwork or operate their equipment.
In February 2022, the Entry-Level Driver Training requirements go into effect, which means all CDL A applicants must obtain training from a provider listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Training Provider Registry. If you’re planning to obtain your CDL on or after February 7, ensure your course provider is on the list before beginning classes or paying tuition.
How Much Does CDL Training Cost in Florida?
Aspiring truck drivers can expect to spend between $3,000 and $7,000 to attend an independent CDL school. However, CDL training at community colleges often costs less than private schools. For example, the CDL A program at Miami Lakes Educational Center and Technical College costs just under $1,900 for a 13-week program.
You may also be able to find a local, company-paid training course with a trucking company, which generally covers tuition costs. Upon completion, you are usually guaranteed a job and must work for an agreed-upon amount of time to “pay off” the cost of training.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Class A CDL in Florida?
It takes between two and six months to earn your CDL license in the state of Florida, depending on if you attend a full-time or part-time program. Part-time programs often take several months to complete as you attend classes fewer hours per day. However, you may be able to continue working while attending part-time courses, which can help you pay for the CDL training.
How to Pay for Truck Driving School in Florida
The lowest out-of-pocket way to pay for truck driving school is to attend a company-paid training program. They may cover the course cost and pay a small stipend while you’re training. However, these courses may require travel if there isn’t one in your local area, and they can be quite competitive.
If you can’t find a company-sponsored CDL program, financial aid resources are available for Florida students. These include:
- Pell Grant: This federal grant can help pay for some CDL license programs that are long enough to be eligible. Fill out a FASFA form to see if you are eligible. Note that not all independent truck driving schools’ programs qualify for federal financial aid, so check first with your desired school.
- Herman Fauss Scholarship: If you are the child or grandchild of a commercial trucker who is a card-carrying member of the Florida Trucking Association, you may be eligible to apply for this scholarship.
- North Florida College: For aspiring truck drivers, North Florida College offers Rapid Credentialing Scholarships that cover up to 100% of tuition for a 12-week CDL course.
Veterans and children or spouses of veterans may be eligible for additional discounts, grants, or scholarships.
How to Choose the Best CDL Training Program
Choosing the right CDL training program can make the difference between landing a high-paying job with a trusted company or struggling to find steady work as a truck driver. Not all CDL schools are equal, so don’t automatically choose the cheapest option without significant research. Carefully investigate each school. Ask questions about payments and refund policies and how many graduates are employed. Here are a few more tips for finding the right Florida CDL training program for you:
- Training location and logistics: Where is the training, and can you return home in the evenings? If training is far from home, how do you get there? Will you be paid during training? Will you need to provide your own food?
- Training time: How many hours will you spend in class per day? Note that some courses require 12+ hour days. Consider how this may impact your friends, family, and even pets.
- Online reviews: See what past students have to say about the course. Don’t just rely on reviews on the school’s website. Look for independent review websites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn to see how students really feel about the school. Did they feel well prepared to enter the workforce?
- Job placement assistance: Does the school offer job placement assistance? How often are they successful in helping students gain employment?
- Third-party testing status: Does the school have third-party testing status, which means they can proctor the CDL test for you? This can expedite the CDL process.
- Pass rates: What percentage of their students pass the CDL on the first try?
- Test failures: Does the school have a guarantee? Will they help you retrain to retake the test? If so, how much will that cost?
- Endorsements: Endorsements can make it easier to find a job. Does the school offer training for specific CDL endorsements? If so, how much do they cost?
- Financial aid: Does the school offer grants, scholarships, or other financial aid assistance?
Resources for Truck Driving Students in Florida
Florida Trucking Jobs
Explore current job opportunities for CDL holders in the state of Florida.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Learn more about CDL license requirements, medical requirements, third-party skill test sites, and more.
Florida Trucking Association
This statewide organization has been dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of truck drivers in the state for more than 90 years.
Florida Commercial Driver License Manual
This manual contains everything you need to know about CDL requirements in Florida, including information on endorsements, disqualifications, and knowledge and skills tests.
Truck Driving Schools Near Me
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Florida Truck Driving Schools
6000 Cinderlane Parkway
Orlando, FL 32810
11300 4th Street North Suite 200
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
5025 Orient Road
Tampa, FL 33610
1409 Pickettville Road
Jacksonville, FL 32220