CDL Trucking Schools Illinois – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: November 19, 2021

If you want to get started in a new career that offers a considerable degree of independence, high earning potential, and job security, consider taking a look at the trucking industry.

There are plenty of trucking schools in Illinois that can teach you everything you need to know about the trucking industry and give you the knowledge and skills required to earn your commercial driver’s license or CDL.

How to Get a CDL in Illinois

Each state has its own rules and regulations for obtaining a CDL. In Illinois, the process is as follows:

Obtain a CLP

Before you can test for a CDL, you must obtain a Commercial License Permit or CLP. To get your CLP, you must pass a written knowledge exam, submit a review of your existing driving record, provide one document that proves legal residence in the United States, and supply a valid medical examiner’s certificate. Writing the Illinois CLP exam will cost $50.

Photo credit:

Complete the CDL Testing

Two weeks after you have obtained a CLP, you can make an appointment to take your CDL exam. The CDL Test consists of a skills/driving test tailored to the specific class of CDL you are applying for. Even if you pass the test, you are required to pay a $60 license-processing fee.

While it is not mandatory in Illinois, it is highly recommended that you enroll in a CDL training school before you take the CDL test. A good trucking school will teach you everything you need to pass your test and give you the skills required to get started in the trucking industry.

CDL Variations Available in Illinois

The state of Illinois has four CDL classifications available:

  • Class A – required for anyone driving a combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of over 26,000 pounds.

  • Class B – required for a single vehicle that weighs 26,000 pounds or more, but any vehicle or trailer being towed cannot exceed 10,000 pounds of gross weight.

  • Class C – a Class C CDL is required for anyone driving a vehicle that weighs more than 16,000 pounds but less than 26,000 pounds.

  • Class D – to drive a single commercial vehicle with a gross weight of fewer than 16,000 pounds, you must have at least a Class D CDL.

Illinois also has an entire system of CDL endorsements. Depending on the particular type of vehicle being driven, a driver might require one or more of the following endorsements:

  • Hazardous Material Endorsement (Class H)

  • Tank Vehicles Endorsement (Class N)

  • Passenger-Carrying Vehicle Endorsement (Class P)

  • School Bus Endorsement (Class S)

  • Towing a Double or Triple Trailer Endorsement (Class T)

  • Charter Bus Endorsement (Class C)

  • Combination tank vehicle and hazardous materials endorsement (Class X)

Review of the Best CDL Trucking Schools in Illinois

If you are interested in earning a CDL and getting started in the trucking industry, one of the best smartest decisions you can make is enrolling in a CDL trucking school. To make things easier, we have reviewed some of the best schools in Illinois:

  • Locations: 1250 W. Lake Street, Addison, IL, 601101
  • Average Tuition Cost: $4299
  • Average Class Size: 6
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Accredited by the Illinois Secretary of State
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 6:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered by Alpha Truck Driving School

Alpha Truck Driving School is a premium training facility that focuses on helping students earn a CDL, so they can get their trucking career off the ground. They offer the following learning opportunities:

  • CDL Class A Program: This course teaches students how to master the fundamentals of driving a tractor-trailer. They offer both manual and automatic training programs. The programs are a total of 160 hours in length and give students everything they need to know to pass the Class A CDL skills test.

  • CDL Upgrade Course: If you currently hold class B CDL and want to upgrade to a Class A, this course equips you with all of the skills necessary to upgrade your license.

  • CDL Refresher Courses: If you already earned a CDL but have been out of the industry for a while and want to brush up your skills, this refresher course allows you to recover your skills with a trained instructor.

Alpha Truck Driving School also helps students earn CDL endorsements by offering free endorsement classes for life after they have graduated from their CDL Class A program.

Program Details

Their programs offer one-on-one on-road training and a variety of flexible payment options. Their teaching teams are extremely professional and dedicated to helping their students earn their CDL.

This school uses modern equipment and a 275,000 sq. ft. training facility, the largest in the state. Their offer of free endorsements after graduation is another big advantage of training with Alpha Truck Driving School.

  • Locations: 2229 W. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, IL, 60197
  • Average Tuition Cost: $3,000
  • Average Class Size: 10
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Accredited by the Illinois Secretary of State
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 10:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered by Wolf Driving School

Wolf Driving School, Inc. offers a 160 hour CDL Class A training program. Given that most of the school’s students are new to the trucking industry, the program teaches students everything they need to know about trucking from start to finish.

They also offer CDL upgrade courses for those with lower classification CDLs and out-of-state drivers looking to have their license transferred over to the state of Illinois.

Wolf Driving School also trains students for additional CDL endorsements if they plan to drive tankers, triples, passenger vehicles, or transport hazardous materials

Program Details

During the on-road segment of the CDL Class A program, students learn on the same equipment they will be tested on during the CDL exam. The school has an arrangement where CDL examiners will come to their training yard to test students on site.

Students have the opportunity to train using the exact vehicles they are eventually tested on, which is a major advantage.

They also have connections with various trucking companies, and their job placement program will help graduates land their first trucking positions.

  • Locations: 5420 W. Roosevelt Road, Suite 217, Chicago, IL, 60644
  • Average Tuition Cost: $4,700
  • Average Class Size: 8
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Accredited by the Illinois Secretary of State
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 8:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered by Expert Driving School

Expert Driving School has a series of popular driver education classes for those looking to earn a non-CDL driver’s license. If you are looking to get a CDL and begin a career in the trucking industry, the CDL Training Program offers students the ideal learning environment.

  • CDL Class A – 160 Hours: Their Class A CDL program involves 100 hours of in-class training and 20 hours of observation in the training yard. Twenty hours of one-on-one skills training focus on turns, backing, pre-trip inspection, and more.

If students feel they need more training than the program provides, they can pay for additional private lessons through the school.

Program Details

All on-road and in-yard training is private, so each student has the undivided attention of their instructor. The entire program can be completed in as little as four weeks, after which students can take their CDL skills test and earn their license.

The school features affordable tuition and job placement assistance for all of its students. Where some schools only focus on passing the CDL exams, Expert Driving School teaches proper driving techniques to help you establish a lasting career.

  • Locations: 7711 W. Belmont Ave., Elmwood Park, IL, 60707
  • Average Tuition Cost: $2,900
  • Average Class Size: 12
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Certified by the State of Illinois, WIOA Participant
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 12:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered by Bulldog Driving School

Bulldog Driving School, Inc. offers a single CDL program. The course consists of a combined 160 hours of in-class and on-road training, completed in a minimum of four weeks or a maximum of nine months.

The course teaches theory and safety measures in the classroom and then moves to behind-the-wheel training in their practice yard. Students will also have the opportunity to practice their driving skills on a highway, which is not always offered by CDL driving school programs.

Program Details

The program teaches everything a student needs to know to earn a Class A CDL and all of the necessary endorsements.

During the on-road segment of the program, students will practice driving on the school's private driving, local roads, streets, and highways. You will always drive under the focused observation of an instructor, so you will perfect your driving techniques for your CDL exam.

They provide all academic materials and instructions in a variety of languages. After graduation, students can access the school’s job placement assistance program, helping graduates land their first entry-level trucking position.

Best CDL School in Chicago, IL:
Progressive Truck Driving School, Inc.

  • Locations: 5538 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60641
  • Average Tuition Cost: $3,000
  • Average Class Size: 8
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Commercial Vehicle Training Association member, A+ BBB accreditation 
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 8:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered by Progressive Truck Driving School

Progressive Truck Driving School offers a single program covering everything you need to know to earn a Class A CDL or any classification below a Class A.

The program starts by preparing students for the knowledge test to earn their learner’s permit. This prep work is something that most schools do not cover.

After the student has earned their learner’s permit or CLP, the program focuses on the end goal of earning a CDL.

Students will learn vehicle inspections, shifting techniques, defensive driving techniques, backing, coupling and uncoupling, space management, night driving, and much more.

Program Details

Progressive Truck School uses a variety of late-model conventional and cab-over tractors, so students have an opportunity to train with the exact types of vehicles they will use for their CDL test and in the trucking career that follows.

They offer training on Class A and Class B vehicles, as well as passenger vehicles. The student can choose which type of vehicle they want to train with so they get real-life experience on the right equipment.

The school also offers an impressive job placement program available to students before and after they graduate. Their CDL program is one of the leading trucking programs in the country and has been running strong since 1974.

Why Start a Trucking Career in Illinois?

Whether you currently live in the state or are considering moving to it in the future, starting a trucking career in Illinois is a smart decision. If you are wondering whether or not you should start a trucking career in Illinois, consider the following:

  • The Midwest plays a vital role in the nation’s trucking industry, which means there are plenty of trucking jobs in Illinois and the surrounding area.

  • Geographically, Illinois has relatively smooth terrain, which means it is the perfect location for entry-level drivers to learn the ropes.

  • Illinois is home to major cities, so the state has a strong need for qualified truck drivers. Average salaries and job security are both high for truck drivers in Illinois.

  • Whether you prefer living in a big city or are drawn to the rural lifestyle, Illinois offers the best of both worlds. There are plenty of high-paying, stable jobs available across Illinois, and the state is a great place to raise a family.
  • Truck Driving Salary and Job Outlook in Illinois

    Average truck driver salaries in the state of Illinois tend to sit fairly close to the national average. With that said, drivers in Illinois often make more per year than those driving in the surrounding states of Missouri, Kentucky, and Indiana

    While the average annual salaries for Illinois-based truck drivers may not be overly remarkable, job prospects are plentiful. Few truck drivers struggle to find work in the state, and there are just as many jobs available to beginners as there are for experienced drivers.

    As they do everywhere, salaries vary by how much driving experience the individual has. Average break down in the following way:

    • Entry-Level (Less than one year of experience): $57,500

    • Mid-Level (5 to 9 years of experience): $65,402

    • Master-Level (More than ten years of experience): $69,167

    It is important to remember that the figures stated above are just average salaries. For most trucking positions, the individual’s earning potential is determined by how much driving they are willing to do. If you are young and ambitious, you could earn far more per year than the state’s average salary figures.


    Illinois is a great place to start your trucking career. There are plenty of job opportunities, and truckers enjoy a high earning potential. If you are looking to start a new and exciting career, you should seriously consider any of the CDL trucking schools we reviewed above.

    People Also Ask

    If you still have questions about CDL trucking schools in Illinois, you’re not alone. Here are some of the things that people ask about the most.

    Do Trucking Companies in Illinois Pay You To Get Your CDL?

    More often than not, you will be responsible for paying the fees associated with earning your CDL. However, some companies may compensate those that attend certified CDL trucking schools, as it helps them know their drivers are properly trained.

    Can You Get Financial Aid For Trucking School In Illinois?

    Many trucking schools in Illinois offer financial aid assistance for their students; however, this should not be taken for granted. The best way to know is to contact the actual school you are interested in and have them explain their financial aid options to you.

    How Many Questions Are on the Illinois CDL Test?

    The written component of the Illinois CDL testing process has 50 questions. Applicants must answer at least 40 questions correctly to earn their commercial learner’s permit.

    How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a CDL In Illinois?

    You must be 18 to apply for a CDL and at least 21 years old to use your license to transport passengers or drive a commercial vehicle beyond state lines.

    How Much Does CDL Training Cost in Illinois?

    Schools charge different tuition rates depending on their class sizes, training equipment, and post-graduation resources. The typical range is between $2,000 and $5,000 for the full program.

    How Long Does a CDL Permit Last in Illinois?

    In Illinois, a CDL must be renewed every four years. The renewal must take place before the expiration date.

    Photo credit:

    Do You Have To Go To CDL School in Illinois?

    No, CDL training schools are not mandatory in the state of Illinois; however, earning a CDL is extremely difficult if you do not complete a training program first. Without proper training, an applicant would likely fail the skills portion of their CDL exam, a waste of time and money.

    Is a CDL License Required To Drive a School Bus in Illinois?

    You do not need a full CDL to drive a school bus in Illinois; however, you must obtain a school bus permit, which means passing a written exam and taking an on-road skills exam on a bus. Doing so would earn the S level endorsement required to drive a commercial passenger vehicle.

    After spending years on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the hardships that came with the trucking industry. I realized there was an opportunity to lend a hand a create a resource for truckers by truckers. With the help of my tech-savvy son, I built Trucker Geek as a way to show people that becoming a driver doesn’t need to be a stressful headache.