CDL Trucking Schools in Minnesota – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: May 16, 2021

The demand for truck drivers in the U.S. is on a constant upswing, and the state of Minnesota is no exception.

There is no better time than now to pursue a CDL. If this is a career path you’re considering, then you probably have some questions. 

We’re here to take a look at some of the top CDL schools and hopefully answer those questions for you. 

Trucking Schools in Minnesota Data

To get things started, let’s take a quick look at what you can expect from a CDL trucking school in Minnesota. 

  • Total Schools: 21

  • Number of Undergraduate Programs: 14

  • Number of Graduate Programs: 3

  • Average Acceptance Rate: 44%

  • Average Tuition Cost: $8925

  • Average Loan Amount: $6294

  • Average Scholarship Award: $3668

  • Average Classroom Size: 21 students

  • Average Length of Program: 6 weeks                         

CDL Requirements in Minnesota

Commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements can vary from state to state, but each has minimum requirements you have to meet to obtain your CDL. The requirements in Minnesota are as follows:

  • Be 18 years of age or older

  • Have a valid driver’s license 

  • Meet all medical requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration 

  • Show proof of citizenship

  • Obtain a commercial license learners permit

  • Pass all required written tests to be eligible to take the CDL road test
  • CDL Variations Available in Minnesota 

    There are three different variations of a CDL in Minnesota, all of which can also have different endorsements. To get an idea of which CDL may be the right fit for you, here is a quick overview of each.

    Class A

    This CDL will allow you to drive any vehicle or combination of vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or greater as long as the tow vehicle is more than 10,000 pounds.  

    Types of vehicles that you can drive with a Class A license can include:

    • Tractor-trailers
    • Truck and trailer
    • Tankers
    • Flatbeds

    Class B

    This CDL allows you to drive vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 provided that the tow vehicle is less than 10,000 pounds.

    Types of vehicles that you can drive with a Class B license include:

    • Tractor-trailers
    • Box trucks
    • Large passenger buses
    • Dump trucks with small trailers
    • Segmented buses

    Class C

    A Class C CDL will allow you to drive vehicles that can transport 16 or more passengers or materials that are considered hazardous.

    Types of vehicles that you can drive with a Class C license include:

    As mentioned above, each license class can also be paired with a different endorsement. These endorsements include:

    • H- An endorsement that allows you to transport hazardous materials

    • N- An endorsement that allows you to transport any liquid or gaseous materials in a tank

    • P- An endorsement that allows you to transport 16 or more passengers

    • S- An endorsement that allows you to operate a vehicle that transports students to and from school and home

    • T- An endorsement that allows you to operate a vehicle with two or more trailers attached

    • X- An endorsement that combines both the H and N endorsements and allows you to transport hazardous materials and tankers

    Review of the Best CDL Trucking Schools in Minnesota

    Now that we’ve had a look at some key aspects when it comes to CDL in Minnesota, let’s take a closer look at the top trucking schools to choose from.

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered by Interstate Truck Driving School

    Interstate Truck Driving School offers in-depth training for Class A CDL, as well as Class B CDL certification and properly prepares its students to not only pass the state's CDL exam but to operate large commercial vehicles safely and properly.

    The multiple training programs available follow the curriculum set by the Professional Truck Drivers Institute. The length of training will vary depending on the program chosen with the Class A CDL course resulting in 160 hours of training.

    The school offers full-time flexible class schedules that can take anywhere from four to six weeks depending on how you progress with extra time and instruction available for those who need it at no extra cost.

    Program Details

    Interstate Truck Driving School offers professional training with one-on-one truck driving lessons and a learn-at-your-own-pace philosophy that emphasizes the school's care for its students. Instead of pushing you out the door, they take the time to make sure you succeed.  

    The first in Minnesota to use driving simulators to teach new drivers, Interstate Truck Driving School is a step ahead of most in the state when it comes to training technology. That simulator does not mean sacrificing actual drive time as all students get the proper on-road training over and above the simulator training.

    While the pandemic has changed the way the school and their local trucking company partners go about assisting students with job placement, Interstate Truck Driving School normally has companies come and recruit drivers on-site, leading to one of the state’s highest success rates.

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Class A Leasing

    Class A Leasing’s education options are seemingly endless, and they offer something that will suit anyone’s needs, no matter what they are looking to get out of a CDL. The major programs available are Class A training and Class B training. 

    Because of the wide range of courses offered, Class A Leasing caters to any student. As for tuition, course length will vary based on the program, but their comprehensive Class A training will take four weeks or 160 hours of training to complete.

    Program Details

    Personal one-on-one in-truck training and generally small class sizes help Class A Leasing provide top-quality CDL training that focuses on helping students obtain their CDL while learning how to safely operate any commercial vehicle.

    The school prides itself on going above and beyond, providing students with clean, state-of-the-art late model trucks that are easy to drive in and help put new, inexperienced drivers at ease when behind the wheel.

    In the truck training business for over thirty years, Class A Leasing has a proven track record of successful students because they go above and beyond, letting students practice in the trucks as much as they need until they are ready to pass the test.

    • Locations: Albert Lea, MN
    • Website: Truck Driving | Riverland Community College
    • Average Tuition Cost: $6216
    • Average Class Size: Class sizes can vary considerably depending on demand but they try to keep the class as small as possible
    • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Nationally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1 in-truck training

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Riverland Community College

    Riverland Community College’s CDL program offers a comprehensive CDL Course covering everything from small flatbeds to tractor-trailers in one program. Before graduating, students will be capable of driving any type of truck for any class of CDL.  

    The in-depth training program is one of the longest in the state because it covers everything and provides all the training needed to drive any commercial vehicle. The course takes 16 weeks to complete, and you can follow it with a paid internship with one of the school's many partners.

    Program Details 

    Riverland’s small class sizes and one-on-one truck training ensure that they do not sacrifice the quality of training, with every student receiving the same personal driving time.

    The extensive CDL program uses state-of-the-art equipment to provide the best possible environment for students, with in-truck training done both on a closed driving range and on public roads with the instructor, including nighttime driving situations.

    Because of Riverland’s many partnerships with local trucking companies and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, students have many opportunities to get to work right after graduation. The internship also places students in paid positions with those companies that often lead to full-time employment.

    • Locations: Alexandria, MN
    • Website: Professional Truck Driver (alextech.edu)
    • Average Tuition Cost: $6000
    • Average Class Size: 24 students
    • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Nationally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1 Ratio can vary depending on particular class size

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Alexandria Technical and Community College

    Alexandria Technical and Community College’s CDL program is very in-depth compared to other courses in the state. Like Riverland listed above, it covers everything from small flatbeds to tractor-trailers in one program. They do also offer a smaller Class B CDL course for those not looking for an in-depth program.

    As mentioned, the Class B training course is shorter, but Class A is the major focus at this school, lasting 16 weeks with the possibility of a paid internship upon completion. The course is one of the most in-depth programs in the state (alongside Riverland Community College), and the amount of training is second to none.

    Program Details

    As with other community colleges, class size will vary depending on enrollment at the time, but one thing that does not change is the one-on-one in-truck driving instruction. Driving at the facility is sometimes done with an instructor overseeing a few trucks, but road time is one-on-one.

    Because the in-truck training involves both driving at the training facility and on the open road, the trucks that Alexandria Tech uses are late model and constantly being maintained, resulting in quality training equipment. 

    Alexandria partners with the Minnesota Trucking Association to offer students opportunities to get to work right after graduation. The internship also places students in paid positions with those companies that often lead to full-time employment.

    • Locations: Lake Charles, Jennings/Morgan Smith, Oakdale, MN
    • Website: Dakota County Technical College
    • Average Tuition Cost: $2100
    • Average Class Size: 5 Students
    • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
    • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Dakota County Technical College

    Dakota County Technical College is different from others on this list in that it does not offer training courses for a Class A CDL but instead focuses on a Class B CDL. With this course, students will be able to drive any vehicle in Class B well as vehicles in Class C, depending on endorsements.

    Dakota County Technical College offers their Class B CDL program to both individuals and companies. Both training courses result in a total of 24 hours of training completed over three or four days.

    Program Details

    While not the in-depth Class A training that other schools on this list cover, the overall training is very in-depth, with comprehensive in-class coverage of everything needed to pass a Class B CDL test. 

    If taking the course as an individual, the entire time is spent one on one with an instructor at the school. While it amounts to the same number of training hours, the corporate program is a little different in that it is done in groups with a minimum of four, and it can be done either at the school or at the business. 

    Unfortunately, because of the small class and instruction time, this Class B CDL course does not qualify for financial aid, and while you will finish the class with your license, it is up to you to find the right job placement afterward.

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Lake Superior College

    Lake Superior College offers a single training in Class A CDL, as well as a Class A refresher course and truck driver simulator training. Once obtained, the Class A license will allow drivers to operate vehicles in Class B and Class C depending on endorsements.

    Like many other community colleges, the Lake Superior College’s CDL training focuses primarily on Class A driving. While the in-truck, on-site yard training may see many students per instructor, the on-road driving is done one-on-one with the instructor.

    The Class A program is an extensive 11-week training program that sees many hours spent on skills training in the yard, as well as on-road training.

    Program Details

    Lake Superior College’s comprehensive CDL program educates students on how to safely operate a tractor-trailer and teaches defensive driving skills, logging practices, and properly completing pre-trip inspections.

    The in-truck learning takes place on the school grounds where the students are alone in trucks while an instructor observes, as well as on the road where one-on-one instruction time helps them get comfortable with rural, urban, and highway driving situations. 

    While the program does not qualify for financial aid through the school, there may be grants available through local trucking companies or the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

    Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Mayle Trans Truck Driving School

    Mayle Trans Truck Driving School offers training courses that help students obtain a Class A CDL, as well as refresher training for those with previous trucking experience.

    The in-depth Class A CDL course offers 160 hours, over four to six weeks. The course can be broken up into four major components; in-class training, skills training (which can consist of at facility driving), observation (student is in the truck while the instructor observes from outside), and on-road training (one-on-one instruction in real driving situations).

    Program Details

    The majority of the driving done during Mayle Trans Truck Driving School’s CDL program is done at the facility under the observation of the instructor, meaning that students are in their own trucks while the instructor is outside observing them. 

    When it comes time for the students to get real-world, on-road driving experience, the school offers modern tractor-trailer combinations that are both up to date and well maintained. The on-road driving is done one-on-one with only the student and instructor in the truck.

    The school itself does not offer job placement assistance. Instead, it focuses on ensuring the successful competition of the certification program and obtaining your CDL.

    How to Choose a Trucking School in Minnesota

    There are things you need to consider when making a major life decision like deciding on a career. Choosing the school to get that career started is no different. As overwhelming as it all may seem, there are a few things you should take into consideration before settling on a school.

    Cost

    Cost is almost always the first thing someone looks at when trying to find a school, but it shouldn’t be the most important. The cost of CDL schools in Minnesota can vary considerably, but there is almost always a reason, as one school offers more in-depth programs than others.

    Financial Aid

    While most CDL school programs do not qualify for federal financial assistance, they will usually offer some financial aid, from allowing students to make payments to offering assistance through specific programs or trucking companies.

    Location

    Ideally, students are going to want a school that is close to home. Unfortunately, that can’t always be the case. While some schools will provide hotel rooms or even have housing for students coming from a distance, those rooms are usually provided at an extra cost.

    Training

    The most important thing to consider is the actual training. Most schools follow the same basic curriculum, where they differ is in the student/instructor ratio. Look for a school with plenty of one-on-one in-truck training as opposed to multiple students in a truck at once.

    Program Length

    CDL training hours can also vary depending on the school, with most offering a minimum of 160. Schools that have more hours of training are usually spending more time in-truck than others. While all aspects of CDL training are important, a school that offers more in-truck training hours will ensure you know how to properly and safely operate the truck before writing your test.

    Why Start a Trucking Career in Minnesota?

    The demand for truck drivers is ever increasing throughout the U.S., and the state of Minnesota is no different. If you’re considering a career driving a truck, there is no better time than now.

    Salary

    Because there is a high demand for drivers in Minnesota right now, salaries reflect that many companies are willing to pay more for properly trained drivers.

    Cost of Living

    Minnesota is a state with many suburban and rural areas, and these areas have a lower cost of living. Pair this with increasing salaries, and drivers can see wages comparable to higher cost of living states while spending less on life’s necessities.

    Job Opportunities

    Many of the country’s largest trucking companies are in Minnesota, and they often work closely with CDL schools not just to train their employees but to recruit new team members.

    Truck Driving Salary and Job Outlook in Minnesota

    The job outlook when it comes to truck driving in Minnesota has never been better. Trucking in the U.S. remains one of the most in-demand professions. 

    The recent pandemic has only added to this situation when it comes to the need for drivers, but even without that taken into consideration, trucking is the number one method used to carry goods around the U.S., with 80% of goods being delivered by truck.

    While many trucking companies base their salary on the state’s current cost of living, the demand for drivers is starting to change that. Companies are now in a position where they need to offer higher salaries, from entry-level to master-level, with an average salary in Minnesota being $47,000.

    Whether you want to look at things from a state standpoint or look at it countrywide, the numbers prove that the job outlook has never been better, and the field is projected to continue that way for several years to come. 

    Entry-Level: The base salary for drivers right out of school currently sits around $33,600

    Mid-Level: As you gain some experience you can expect the salary to grow to $46,900

    Master-Level: A driver with many hours of experience can make upwards of $67,220

    Conclusion 

    When you look at the demand and the projected outlook of the truck driving industry in Minnesota, it’s not hard to see why many people are looking into truck driving as a career. But that career has to start somewhere, and many trucking companies wanting to see a CDL certification before even considering an applicant.           

    People Also Ask

    While we hope you have been able to take some helpful information from this article and apply some of that to what can be the beginning of a rewarding and often lucrative career in trucking, we understand that there may be some unanswered questions. Here are some of the questions we most frequently get asked.

    Do Trucking Companies In Minnesota Pay You To Get Your CDL?

    Yes, some companies will pay employees while they obtain their CDL. Companies that do this will typically pay a low base salary while you are in school, and then have you sign a contract once you graduate.

    Can You Get Financial Aid For Trucking School in Minnesota?

    Financial aid is different for a CDL compared to regular colleges. Most do not qualify for federal support, but they offer grants from local governments or trucking organizations. Many students can get some amount of financial aid this way.



    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.