Trucking schools range from a few weeks to a few months. Considering you will (and should) go through additional training when you get hired on with a company, I would recommend either ends of the sprectrum. The school we attended was only concerned with getting a license in our hands and focused solely on passing the CDL paper and final road test. We started with a school local to us in Atlanta, and it was a mere 3 weeks long. We watched countless students quit while on the yard and one was disqualified immediately after failing to follow instructions that would have prevented him from mowing down the schools fence with the back of the trailer.
Our first week was learning the CDL Manual from the Georgia DDS (almost verbatim) since we had to have permits to legally be in the drivers seat of a CMV. By the end of the week, we were Georgia CMV textbook fact spitting zombies. To be exact, we started studying Monday and tested for our permits on Friday so it was a quick turnaround and nonstop studying. The following 2 weeks were practicing yard and road skills. The “road skills” covered (at most) a 20 mile radius, from school and back, with a small section of interstate driving. We had to show efficiency in our turning, shifting, acceleration, deceleration (down shifting), stopping (without stalling), and scanning intersections and railroad tracks before crossing. The yard skills covered were straight backing, off set, parallel parking, and the all-but-famous, alley dock. We were put on a scheduled rotation, so everyday you would get practice on each skill, keeping everyone fresh for test day. By week 2, we could focus on which skills we felt we needed the most practice on. Our instructors ranged in experience from 9 months (not kidding) to one with 4 million miles under his belt. That should tell you which one we talked to more.
Come test day, our class had 6 of us testing out. We met with a handful of DMV employees and started first thing in the morning. The way our school had set it up with the DMV, one of the instructors from the school drove us out to the test site, and luckily, was able to show us the ‘test drive’ route and point out the common errors made by past students. First came the knowledge test which was a fancy way of saying pre-trip that included the air break test, then yard skills, and finally, the test drive. A few immediate disqualification examples were; stalling upon stopping, hitting a curb, not scanning an intersection before passing through it, or not being able to recite a sign you just passed. Fortunately for us, we both passed on our first test attempt and were the only ones to walk away that morning with our full Class A CDLs!
On our last day of school we were bombarded by company recruiters. Which gave us more company sponsored pens, hats, recyable bags, and rulers than we could use in a lifetime. Little did they know that we had already chosen a company to venture with and had been prehired during our initial training; so we knew exactly where we were headed next and had already had a bus ticket booked for orientation! It’s important to have an idea of what company you’d like to join in the industry so you can go fresh out of school and be ready for your orientation after your handed that shiny new CDL!