How to get a CDL (and get one for free)

How to get a CDL (and get one for free)

Good starting pay, relatively short training, and lots of job opportunities. If that sounds good, then a career in trucking could be for you. And now’s a great time to get started since there’s a  shortage of qualified truckers—around 100,000 jobs to be exact. 

So what does a career as a trucker look like? For commercially licensed truckers, average salaries are around $62,752 per year. To put that in perspective,the average starting salary of a 2018 college grad was $50,390.

Not bad. Especially when you consider the fact that you can earn a CDL without paying a single dollar out of pocket. That’s right: get a CDL and get one entirely for free. Want to learn how? Read on. 

How to get a CDL for free

While you can pay thousands of dollars to a trucking school to get CDL training, you don’t have to. Many companies will sponsor you. That means they pay your tuition and, in return, you agree to work for them for a set period (usually a year) at the end. So you graduate with no debt and a stable job. Not bad, right?

A quick search in your area will probably pull up a choice of driving schools and companies that offer sponsored programs. But before you jump in, there are a couple things to think about. 

Things to consider

How to find a training program

Once you’ve decided that CDL training is for you, the next step is finding a company that will sponsor you. A quick search will likely reveal a number of long haul trucking companies in your area that offer these kinds of services. But that’s not the only option.

At WorkStep, we work with a wide range of national and regional companies that also offer free CDL training programs, such as Woodfeathers Roofing, Maletis Beverage, and UNFI. There are often pros to working with a single company versus a trucking outfitter, such as better scheduling and benefits. Some companies will even pay you a starting salary while you’re training. 

If you’re considering getting a CDL, check out training options or job opportunities in your area. Have questions? Drop us a note at Our career coaches would be happy to help.