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Highway next to Lake Michigan shot from a drone.

Commercial Drivers License (CDL)

Keep the supply chains moving

The Class A CDL class is in session five days a week for three weeks and will be held at the Niles campus. The first week is in the classroom and the second and third weeks are behind the wheel practicing maneuvers and operations.

In addition to a home study component, this program is divided into two areas. The classroom portion of the program begins with the basics of the trucking industry and preparation in obtaining a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP). It continues with vehicle familiarization, basic systems, Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, defensive driving, trip planning, map reading, and log-book instruction. This portion of the program allows students to get more in-depth knowledge of the trucking industry and truck operations.

Upon obtaining a CLP, a Department of Transportation (DOT) Physical and Drug Screen, and successful completion of the classroom portion of the program, students you will proceed to skills training. Skills training concentrates on the proper techniques of urban, rural and highway driving and includes straight line backing, alley docking, safe turns, and vehicle inspection.

You will get to observe real-world driving situations, learn how to properly change lanes, downshift, upshift, and how to do traffic checks and other safe driving techniques, giving you the skills and confidence to handle a tractor-trailer in all driving conditions. 

All applicants must:

  • Be age 21 or older to drive a CMV across state lines (interstate) or 18 years of age or older to drive a CMV in Michigan
  • Pass a pre-enrollment drug screen
  • Complete and pass the DOT physical
  • Pass a CDL eligibility check
  • Agree to a background check
  • Be able to read and speak the English language fluently
  • Have distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 or better with corrective lenses
  • Have no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control
  • Possess a valid Michigan driver’s license with no suspension or revocation in the last 36-months

Upon completion of the program requirements, you will be eligible take the CDL license examination and apply for one of the many jobs available as a commercial driver. After employment, you should expect one to three months of additional training at a trucking company.

  • Introduction to Truck Driving  
  • Hours of Service  
  • Commercial Learner Permit  
  • DOT Physical & Drug Screen Home Study  
  • Beginning Yard & Road Training
  • Advanced Yard & Road Training
  • Third-Party Road Test  

Total Hours: 160

Tuition: $ 4,900*

*Cost may be significantly or completely offset through Michigan Works! Funding opportunities. Contact your local Michigan Works! office to learn more about whether you might qualify.

Tri-Area Trucking School offers lifetime career services to its graduates and employs full time staff to assist you with excellent employment opportunities at well-known companies.

Employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2028. As the demand for goods increases, more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving.

National 2018 median pay: $43,680 per year or $21 per hour

National job growth projections by 2028: 5%*

*Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2017-2018

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