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CDL Training: Community College vs. Training School

There are over 2 million heavy-duty truck and tractor-trailer drivers in the United States. All these drivers have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and many of them attended a formal training school or community college. If you want to earn money as a trucker, you also need a CDL. You can’t drive commercially or apply for jobs without one!

So which route should you take? Learn the differences between truck driving courses at training schools and community colleges below.

When Can You Study for Your CDL?

If you want to become a professional trucker in the U.S., you should earn your CDL at a community college or training school. To enroll in one of these programs, you must be 18 years old or over, have a valid driver’s license, obtain a U.S. DOT Physical and be drug-free.

Some programs may also have additional requirements. These include a clean motor vehicle record, typically from the past three years. That means no speeding tickets, accidents, suspensions, or DUIs during that time.

Community college vs. Trucking school share

Get Your CDL at a Community College

There are over 900 public community colleges in the U.S. These educational institutions offer courses in a broad range of disciplines, including programs for students that want to develop the skills required to drive a Class-A or Class-B vehicle. After training at one of these programs and obtaining a CDL, graduates can apply for jobs as commercial drivers in the transportation sector.


  • Community college may be free in some states through College Promise programs, which could work out cheaper than getting your CDL from a training school, depending on where you live. You might be eligible for a grant for some (or all) of the costs associated with community college.
  • Community colleges have more robust student support networks than driving schools. You can access services such as libraries, counselor assistance, and other academic support facilities.


  • Getting your CDL at a community college can take up to 6-9 months. It could take you half a year or more before you get your certification and earn income.
  • Community colleges may have more limited career placement opportunities, so you might struggle to find a job after graduation.
  • Currently, only Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee offer College Promise programs. These programs only cover tuition costs and not transportation, educational supplies, or, if living on campus, lodging accommodations.
  • You need to meet specific eligibility criteria for a community college grant. There’s no guarantee you’ll get one.

Get Your CDL at a CDL Training School

CDL Training schools are smaller than community colleges, and typically only offer CDL programs exclusively. Like college, you can learn the skills required to drive a commercial motor vehicle and apply for transportation jobs after graduation.


  • Getting your CDL at a training school typically takes around a month. That’s significantly quicker than most community colleges. You can get your certification and start earning money from a truck driving company in a shorter time frame.
  • The best truck driving schools provide students with direct assistance in career opportunities, potentially increasing their chances of employment.
  • Some driving schools offer flexible financing options for those who qualify so students can spread the cost of CDL training out over time.
  • There are thousands of training schools across the U.S., so you’re probably closer to one of these educational institutions than a community college.


  • You might have to cover the costs of CDL training without the use of Federal financial aid. This could be a significant expense that you might not be able to afford right now. However, some training schools offer in-house financing to those who qualify to help cover the cost of tuition and many of them work with trucking companies that offer tuition reimbursement after graduation while working for the company to reimburse students for the cost of tuition.
  • If you’re not 21 yet, you might want to wait to enroll in a training school because you need to be 21 to drive a commercial truck across state lines. If you’re under 21 and want to pursue a career in trucking, there are things you can do in the meantime to prepare. Check out this article to learn more.
Trucking share images

Why Choose Roadmaster Drivers School?

For over 30 years, Roadmaster Drivers School has helped over 100,000 drivers train to get their CDL. Unlike some community colleges, Roadmaster offers students various benefits. Students can get their CDL in a matter of weeks, and there are flexible financing options for those who qualify to help cover the cost of tuition. Other benefits include training with the latest commercial vehicles and with experienced instructors who have real trucking knowledge. Roadmaster also has strong links with truck driving companies across North America. Representatives from these companies often meet students during their CDL training to discuss gainful employment opportunities after graduation.

Final Word

There are two primary ways to get your CDL: Enrolling in a community college or attending a training program. Truck driving courses at community colleges often take longer than those at training schools and generally do not offer the same level of career placement assistance opportunities for students. If you want to achieve your CDL in a shorter time frame and increase your chances of finding gainful employment after graduation, consider a reputable truck driving school.

Do you want to become a professional truck driver? Start training for your career at Roadmaster Drivers School — the training school that helps you train for your CDL in weeks. Click here to find a Roadmaster location near you.