CDL Trucking Schools in New Mexico – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: June 1, 2021

Those who choose to pursue a career in truck driving can find fulfillment in the occupation quickly. Unlike in most other career lines, you will kick-start your career as a professional truck driver within a few weeks after doing a CDL exam and additional certifications. 

The good is that some CDL trucking schools in New Mexico offer accelerated programs that will hasten the learning process even further. 

To date, truck driving has remained among the largest and the best occupations in New Mexico. Let’s see what you should consider when choosing a school and some of the best ones you can join in the state.

Data on Trucking Schools in New Mexico

  • Total Schools: 17

  • Number of Undergraduate Programs: 11

  • Number of Graduate Programs: 2

  • Average Acceptance Rate: 63%

  • Average Tuition Cost: $3,089

  • Average Loan Amount: $5,173

  • Average Scholarship Award: $1,252

  • Average Classroom Size: 21 students

  • Average Length of Program: 6-8 weeks

CDL Requirements in New Mexico

Training as a truck driver can take just a few weeks in New Mexico. Eligibility to hit the road as a qualified truck driver might need that you meet some state requirements before getting a CDL.

First, you must be 18 years and above to apply for a CDL in New Mexico. To drive commercial vehicles across state lines, you must meet the minimum age requirement of 21. To apply and train for a CDL, you must possess a valid class D driver’s license.

Other mandatory requirements to get a CDL in New Mexico also include:

  • Acquire a CDL Learner's Permit

  • Pass all and test(s) relating to the CDL class and endorsements applied for

  • Provide proof of identity (date of birth)

  • Pass a skills test conducted by an approved CDL inspector

  • Confirm your agreement with the state’s motor carrier safety regulations

  • Must possess New Mexico’s non-commercial (regular, Class D) driver’s license or a valid nonresident commercial driver license (CDL)

  • Two proofs of New Mexico physical residency

  • Proof of lawful permanent residence and citizenship in the U.S.

  • Commercial Driver Medical Certificate and/or any medical waiver that is given by the state

  • Must take medical tests that focus on blood sugar level, drug-free lifestyle, eyesight and hearing tests, and manageable diabetes

CDL Variations Available in New Mexico

States are allowed to develop their classification systems, so state regulations in New Mexico determine eligibility to drive one vehicle and not another.

Class A

This class has the heaviest vehicles with over 26,000 pounds Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). The Class A vehicles are for towing the heaviest trailer types with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 10,000 pounds.

Class B

Class B vehicles are also heavy, with a GCWR of over 26,000 pounds. Here, the vehicle to be towed does NOT exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 10,000 pounds.

Class C

Small passenger transport vehicles weigh under 26,000 pounds and are designed to carry 16 or more passengers plus the driver. These vehicles can also transport materials considered to be hazardous.

Class D

These vehicles have a GCRW of below 26,000 pounds. 

New Mexico federal laws require that one must have a Class D license before applying for the CDL classes A, B, and C.

Review of the Best CDL Trucking Schools in New Mexico

Out of 17 CDL truck driving schools in New Mexico, we will review some of the top schools you can attend to pursue a career as a professional truck driver.

  • Locations: Albuquerque, others outside New Mexico
  • Website: www.phoenixtruckdrivingschool.com
  • Average Tuition Cost: $4,000
  • Average Class Size: Communicated during orientation
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: Classroom sessions vary (10:1 night classes), 1:1 over-the-road training

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Phoenix Truck Driving School

Upon completing the CDL Training Certificate Program with Phoenix, the instructor will guide you on passing a CDL permit test. 

The school will then offer you certification for Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) after completing the written tests and then a CDL License after passing the skills test and adhering to all other federal laws.

Phoenix Truck Driving School will also offer you three CDL endorsements to complement your CDL. These include:

  • Combination vehicles that permit you to drive trucks hauling two to three trailers.

  • Tanker/tank endorsement, which includes trucks that haul larger gas and liquid tanks.

  • Hazardous material (HazMat) endorsement test.

Another endorsement is the passenger CDL endorsement that allows you to drive a CMV transporting 16 people and more. For those who qualify, the school offers paid externships.

Program Details

Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque is near Swift Trucking Company. The school gives students exposure to the real trucking world. 

The other CDL school at Fort Bliss has programs designed to serve the veteran military community. Here, military veterans benefit from G.I. Bill funding that can be used to pay for their learning.

The school also offers accelerated classes that you can complete within four weeks. Learning is flexible as the school offers day and night and also weekend classes.

All Phoenix campuses also offer job placement assistance to their students. The school staff will help you identify companies with jobs matching your career goals.

  • Locations: Albuquerque
  • Website: www.cnm.edu
  • Average Tuition Cost: $4500
  • Average Class Size: Communicated during orientation
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI)
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: Classroom lessons vary, over-the-road training is 1:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Central New Mexico Community College

Upon successful completion of a CDL training program with Central New Mexico Community College, the school offers three certificates:

  • Certificate of Achievement, Class B CDL

  • Certificate of Completion, Truck Driving Owner Operator

  • Certificate of Achievement, Truck Driving

CDL-A programs are very stringent and take the longest to complete. This program will go for 12 weeks of learning during the day and 15 weeks for night and weekend classes. However, the school does not offer CDL-C and CDL-D (Regular Driver’s License).

The school may offer extra endorsements (Hazardous material, passenger, Tankers, Double, etc.), each coming with additional associated costs.

Program Details

Central New Mexico Community College offers truck driving classes every term, including summers. You may not take courses concurrently since they run successively. 

Students will initially be required to register for the first-class CDL A program. After this, those who complete the program successfully are awarded a CNM Truck Driving License and PTID Certificate from the Professional Truck Driver Institute certification body.

Classroom lessons are held at the Advanced Technology Center, while practical driving tests take place off-campus.

  • Locations: Roswell
  • Website: https://www.roswell.enmu.edu/commercial-drivers-license-2/
  • Average Tuition Cost: $2,500
  • Average Class Size: 4 students
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HCL)
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: Classroom lessons vary (day/night and weekends), over-the-road 1:1

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell

After completing an 8-week CDL training program in Class A, which includes a written examination, you’ll be eligible to take a CDL Operator License. The school will also give a Certificate of Employability after their extensive training. 

Internships expose students to various industry settings to help them gain confidence to take on the commercial trucking world.

Program Details

A CDL training program will take about 16 weeks to complete at Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell. Those who wish to attend accelerated classes must have a Commercial Learner’s Permit. 

The school also has a wide range of scholarship programs for those who qualify. 

The Financial Aid Office updates scholarship deadlines throughout the year.

The CDL training program at ENMU-Roswell is rigorous, and students also benefit from other endorsement courses (tankers, passenger endorsement training, combination vehicle endorsement).

  • Locations: Gallup and Albuquerque
  • Website: www.nativenationscdl.com
  • Average Tuition Cost: $2,600
  • Average Class Size: 10 students
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 4:1 (inside the classroom) and 1:1 over-the-road and highway training

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Native Nations CDL Training

NNCT Certifications include Commercial Class A CDL that takes four (4) weeks of learning, four days each week and 50 hours behind the wheels (128 hours combined) to complete the program.

The other certification is Commercial Class B CDL that takes 96 hours that combine road driver training, range, lab, and classroom -three weeks, four days per week with 30 hours behind the wheels.

The school also offers Passenger Endorsement Training Course taken by licensed Class A and B commercial drivers to supplement their CDL. The whole program will take 40 hours to complete.

Program Details

The NNCT’s commercial driver training programs are in New Mexico’s Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) with the Department of Workforce Solutions. The school also gets funding through the Workforce Opportunity Innovation Act. 

The program offers qualified students with federal grants that cover tuition and other training expenses.

Those who don’t qualify for WIOA can benefit from Paramount Capital Group financing, subject to credit and terms for approval. You may also request a payment plan and other available funding options.

  • Locations: Crownpoint
  • Website: www.navajotech.edu
  • Average Tuition Cost: $3,700
  • Average Class Size: Communicated during orientation
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: Classroom lessons vary, 1:1 over-the-road training

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Navajo Technical University

The school offers a Commercial Driver License (CDL) after completing the CDL program training alongside the mandatory CDL General Knowledge Test

The school offers other endorsement tests for students who wish to specialize in specific truck driving. These endorsement tests include:

  • HazMat Endorsement Test: Covers rules on hazardous material vehicle operations

  • Tanker Endorsement Test: First, you’ll need to earn CDL N then take a knowledge test for driving tanker trucks

  • Doubles & Triples Endorsement Tests

  • Combination Vehicle Endorsement Test

  • School Bus Endorsement Test

  • Air Brake Endorsement Test

These endorsement tests supplement your CDL classes and give you an upper hand when seeking employment.

Program Details

Navajo Technical University offers an entry-level tractor-trailer driver course to train students to obtain a Commercial Driver License. 

The training is closely supervised to make sure at completion students can legally and safely operate a variety of trailer-tractor combinations that include tankers, doubles, triples, and van trailers. 

Other theories incorporated in the trailer-tractor operations curriculum include:

  • Pre-trip inspections

  • Tractor-trailer basic skills

  • Truck maintenance

  • Field trips

Included materials for study are CDL Study Guide, CDL Manual, and pre-trip inspection checklist. The school may help students who excel in securing employment with local trucking companies. The students who complete the course are also eligible to start individual trucking companies.

How to Choose a Trucking School in NM

Truck driving schools in New Mexico follow the same primary curriculum in training their students. However, that does not mean that all other training aspects are also the same. The choice of school can significantly impact your success in the job market as a truck driver.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a truck driving school in New Mexico.

Instructor to Student Ratio

While classroom lessons would be just fine when taken as a group of about 4 to 12, inquire if the school offers a one-on-one session for practical driving tests on roads and highways. Also significant is the number of hours spent behind the wheels to complete the CDL program.

Cost

Tuition fees for truck driving schools vary across different schools in NM. Although people tend to associate quality with higher prices, that might not entirely be true in a truck driving school, considering these institutions are also in business to stay. 

CDL training in New Mexico costs between $2,500 and $4,500 on average. Some may charge higher depending on other extra services available. For example, you may be charged for endorsement programs separately.

Before you make any cost decisions, perform a check to find out more about their training methods and equipment available to aid training.

Program Length

Commercial driver training should go for between three weeks to three months. Be cautious with schools that complete a CDL training in under, say, two weeks. Apart from being unrealistic, that is also dangerous for you as a potential professional truck driver.

Two determining factors on training duration should be part-time/full-time training and state-mandated regulations.

Location

Consider enrolling in a school that is near you. Some schools have hotels to accommodate non-resident students, which may come with an added cost but is worth considering for those who have to commute long distances to get to school. 

Time Behind the Wheel

Apart from the time spent in the classroom, which is also manageable virtually, ask questions on hours students spend behind the wheel during over-the-road training. 

For CDL-A training, time spent behind the wheel should not go below 50 hours. Those who take night classes schedule to spend the maximum time and ask questions during over-the-road training on weekends.

Photo Credit: PacificPowerGroup.com

Job Placement Opportunities

Most good CDL schools will offer job placement opportunities to their students who excel. Although tuition fees for such schools are a little higher, studying in such schools will place you ahead and double your chances of absorption into the trucking industry.

Instructor Quality

Although this might be a little difficult to tell, try to get a little information on your instructors’ track record. Such information may include the number of years spent on the road as truck drivers before becoming instructors.  

An instructor who spent less time as a truck driver may have limited knowledge in the industry hence unreliable.

Accreditation

Examination and accreditation bodies have a significant impact on your CDL credentials. Ask questions to make sure NM federals laws approve the school’s accreditation body. 

Schools accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HSL) should be in your top consideration.

Why Start a Trucking Career in New Mexico?

A career in trucking in New Mexico can bring satisfaction in several ways, as discussed below.

Collaboration with Trucking Companies

Apart from the program being relatively short, New Mexico has other truck transportation companies like Swift that you may be lucky to land a job with after your CDL training. 

The availability of many trucking schools in NM also allows you to scrutinize and single out the best school to undertake the CDL training program.

These schools offer various terms and also have sponsorships and endorsement programs for students who excel. Some also partner with local trucking companies to give their students ready jobs and first-hand learning experience in trucking operations.

Exposure to Trucking Organizations

The state also has an association- the New Mexico Trucking Association and other non-profit organizations like the New Mexico Transport Safety Alliance that represent members in the legislative platforms. 

These organizations are active in educating truck drivers on ways to promote highway safety.

Stable Incomes

Truck drivers’ salary has also reportedly increased in New Mexico over the years. As of 2021 March, the average base pay for a truck driver in the state was $74,458, way above the country’s median salary.

Truck Driving Salary and Job Outlook in New Mexico

Just like any other career, truck driving in New Mexico pays according to the level of experience. Entry levels earn considerably less compared to industry veterans. 

However, you may have a decent starting salary if you go through a truck driving school with a robust employment placement assistance system for CDL graduates.

Here’s a look at salary ranges for different truck driving levels.

Entry-Level: Most drivers in this category have one year or less experience. They drive within the state lines and usually drive smaller passenger vehicles. These drivers get paid about $69,993 per year.

Mid-Level: Mid-level drivers earn a salary of about $79,526 per year. This category drives heavy commercial trucks with a Gross Combination Weight Rating of over 26,000 pounds. 

Mid-level drivers have stayed long in the industry and can thus easily drive cross-country trucks towing up to 10,000 pounds of GCWR.

Master-Level: Master-level drivers are industry veterans. 

These drivers usually have over ten years of experience driving heavy trucks across countries and towing over 10,000 pounds on the trailer. They are the highest-paid and net in an average salary of $84,104 per year.

Conclusion

A career in professional truck driving may not be as demanding in terms of both education and securing a job, as is the case across most industries. 

If you plan to pursue a career as a professional commercial truck driver, invest adequate time in training if you want to attract well-paying companies.

Don’t stop learning until you get to master-level to identify other industry opportunities and advance using your years of experience.

People Also Ask

The transport industry is vast and so are its training aspects. Below we answer common questions mostly from potential students looking to enroll in CDL training programs in New Mexico.

Do Trucking Companies in New Mexico Pay You To Get Your CDL?

Some trucking companies in New Mexico have paid CDL or company-sponsored CDL plans through which students can obtain their CDL and continue working for the company for at least one year before moving out. 

As with other states, most of these paid CDL companies have their bases in other states but often have open positions for which New Mexico drivers can apply.

Can You Get Financial Aid For Trucking School In New Mexico?

Most truck driving schools in New Mexico give or accept financial aid. Most of these truck-driving schools participate in state and federal grant programs and provide scholarships to students who excel academically. 

There are also student loans given to those who qualify.

How Much Does It Cost To Get a CDL in New Mexico?

Getting a CDL in New Mexico will cost you about $1,245 for NM residents and $4,125 for non-residents. These charges are inclusive of drug screening and other physical assessment tests in most trucking schools

You might pay less if you’re lucky to get sponsorship or higher for other campuses that charge for endorsement programs and accommodation for non-residents.

How Long Do You Have to Go To School For Your CDL in NM?

Most CDL truck driving schools in New Mexico have accelerated learning programs. With accelerated learning, you can complete the CDL training program within four weeks. CDL-A is the most extended certification program that will take 12 weeks of daytime learning and 15 weeks if you choose night and weekend classes.



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.