CDL Training in Pennsylvania
Obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step toward launching a rewarding truck driving career. With many successful haulage businesses based in the state and the fourth-highest employment level of heavy and tractor-trailer drivers in the country, Pennsylvania is a great place to earn your license.
Read on for information about CDL training in Pennsylvania, including the costs involved, how to find a truck driving school, CDL training requirements, and more.
CDL A Requirements in Pennsylvania
If you want to get your CDL in Pennsylvania, you must be 18 years old and hold a standard Pennsylvania driver’s license. You’ll also need to provide a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate after a DOT physical, proof of identity, proof of residency, and your Social Security number. You can apply for your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) if you meet these basic requirements.
Step 1: Get Your Pennsylvania Commercial Learner’s Permit
You can find the CLP application form on the state’s Department of Transport (PennDOT) website. You’ll need to fill this in and take it to a Driver License Center, along with documentation to self-certify the type of commercial driving you want to do. You’ll also need to pay the required fees, which vary depending on the type of permit you’re applying for and any endorsements you want to add.
After your application is processed, PennDOT will issue a Knowledge Test Authorization (KTA) for each CDL class, endorsement, and restriction removal you’ve requested, and you can then take a written knowledge test. When you pass, you’ll get a learner’s permit, which will allow you to begin your road skills training.
Step 2: Start CDL Training in Pennsylvania
Once you’ve got a CLP, you can begin your CDL training with a Pennsylvania-based trucking school. New Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Entry-Level Driver Training regulations effective beginning February 2022 state that anyone seeking a Class A or B CDL (or upgrading to those classes) must obtain training from a registered provider. A list of recognized programs will be available on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.
Step 3: Take Your Skills Test
After completing CDL training, you’ll need to pass a road skills test. This test includes vehicle inspections, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving maneuvers. If you pass, you’ll earn your Pennsylvania CDL.
Note: You cannot take your skills test for at least 15 days after receiving your CLP, so keep that in mind when scheduling your road test.
What Disqualifies You From Getting a CDL in Pennsylvania?
If you have major violations or convictions on your driving or criminal record, you may be disqualified from obtaining a CDL in Pennsylvania. When you apply for a CDL, you’ll have to submit to both driving history and criminal background checks, and certain offenses—including serious driving convictions and those connected to human trafficking—will automatically disqualify you.
Once you have a CDL, committing new offenses can result in disqualification. You could lose your CDL after a single major offense (such as a DUI or leaving the scene of an accident) or after an accumulation of smaller serious traffic offenses. Two or more major offenses will result in a lifetime disqualification.
CDL Training Classes in Pennsylvania
Completing a CDL program is an essential part of earning your Pennsylvania commercial driver’s license. As mentioned above, upcoming FMCSA regulations mandate that all drivers seeking a CDL train with a registered school provider.
There’s a wide variety of CDL schools available across the state, so you can find one that suits your goals and needs. A comprehensive trucking school curriculum consists of both classroom and practical on-the-road training in a range of relevant topics, such as:
- Safety procedures
- Vehicle inspections
- General driving practices
- Parking procedures
- Transporting cargo and passengers safely
- The different types of vehicle (for example, doubles, triples, and tanks)
- Hazardous materials
How Much Does CDL Training Cost in Pennsylvania?
The cost of attending a CDL training program in Pennsylvania varies depending on the school you attend and the type of CDL license and endorsements you hope to receive, but generally costs between $4,000-$7,000. These are a few of the options available in the state:
- The CDL program at SAGE Truck Driving Schools, with multiple PA locations, starts at just $4,000.
- Shelly Truck Driving School in York, PA, charges $5,300 for its four-week CDL program.
- The AAA School of Trucking charges an average of around $5,500 for its four-week CDL program.
- Roadmaster‘s six-week CDL program costs up to $6,995 to complete.
Many local public educational institutions such as Rosedale Technical College, Northampton Community College, and Lehigh Carbon Community College also offer CDL programs, which may be more affordable than privately owned schools.
In addition to the above, many company-sponsored options are also available. For company-paid CDL training, your future employer will pay for your CDL training in exchange for working for them for a certain amount of time after you earn your CDL.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Class A CDL in Pennsylvania?
On average, it takes around four weeks to complete a CDL training program in Pennsylvania. After training and testing, it can take up to two weeks to receive your license in the mail.
How to Pay for Truck Driving School in Pennsylvania
While the costs associated with completing a CDL program can feel high if you’re paying for them entirely out of pocket, there are ways to help reduce tuition costs.
For instance, several federal financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants, provide subsidized assistance to students who have limited financial resources, haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree, and plan on attending a participating institution. These are available to vocational students as well as traditional scholars and could help pay for CDL training. However, note that federal financial aid is only applicable to CDL training programs that are lengthy enough to be eligible, so inquire directly with the school when researching your options.
Many truck driving schools or partner companies offer their own financial assistance programs and scholarships, so make sure to check with your chosen school before enrolling to see what might be available. For example, Howes Lubricator offers $1,000 scholarships toward tuition costs for students attending selected SAGE Truck Driving Schools, including those in Pennsylvania. The same applies to educational institutions, such as Harrisburg Area Community College, which has teamed up with Shipley Energy in York, PA, to offer CDL students financial aid through its scholarship program.
Independent scholarships also exist, such as those from the Women In Trucking Foundation. The foundation generally awards 10-12 $1,000 scholarships to eligible female trucking students twice a year.
Many truck driving schools and firms also offer special rates, scholarships, and assistance for military veterans and active service personnel. Some institutions allow those who have operated commercial vehicles while in the military to transfer their skills through the FMCSA Military Skills Test Waiver Program, shortening the time, cost, and list of requirements needed to obtain a CDL.
How to Choose the Best CDL Training Program
With so many CDL schools to choose from, picking the right program can seem daunting. Start by searching online for “CDL training near me” and then begin researching the following:
- Reviews: Websites such as Indeed.com, Google, and Facebook often host alumni reviews of CDL programs. You can also ask for opinions from former students on trucking forums to get a clear picture of their experiences.
- Curriculum: Ensure that the CDL program you’re interested in covers all the important study areas—especially if you want to add endorsements such as Hazmat or School Bus Driver to your license. Consult the Training Provider Registry if you’ll be attending CDL training during or after February 2022.
- Pass rates: How many students pass their CDL tests after the program? Higher pass rates indicate a better standard of teaching.
- Careers: Speak to alumni to determine how many went straight into a job after graduating. Does the school assist with this process? Do they have arrangements with trucking companies to help students go directly into the workforce?
- Fees: Find out how much the CDL program costs and whether that amount includes testing and licensing fees. Does the school offer financial aid? What is their refund policy?
Resources for Truck Driving Students in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation hosts a wide range of useful materials, information, and guides to help you gain your CDL.
Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association
The PMTA works to identify key issues impacting the trucking industry in PA and fights to preserve and strengthen the industry and its workers in the state.
Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s Manual
This state-based manual provides information on CDL knowledge and skills tests, disqualifications, safe driving requirements, cargo transportation, and more.
Find more information and current available roles on AllTrucking.com’s Pennsylvania job page.
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
Pennsylvania Truck Driving Schools
4219 Fritch Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18020