CDL Trucking Schools in South Carolina – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: June 2, 2021

When one thinks of lucrative trades to pursue in life, trucking isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind.

But contrary to popular thought, trucking is one of the most lucrative blue-collar jobs available, and the market in the Palmetto State is no exception. 

This piece discusses the best trucking schools in South Carolina and potential trucking salaries. After all, trucking school is the first brick in the long highway to a high-paying trucking career.

Data on Trucking Schools in SC

  • Total Schools: 28

  • Average Tuition Cost: $4,156

  • Average Loan Amount: $4,987

  • Average Scholarship Award: $598

  • Average Classroom Size: 17

  • Average Length of Program: 4-8 weeks

Requirements for a CDL in South Carolina

The path to obtaining a CDL starts in a very similar manner as getting a regular driver’s license; a learner’s permit must first be obtained. In order to acquire a commercial learner's permit (CLP), one must:

  • Be older than 18 years of age
  • Have a permanent residence in South Carolina
  • Have a valid standard driving license

It’s a requirement in South Carolina that all drivers who operate a commercial vehicle must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are several types of commercial vehicles, and each will require a particular license. Generally speaking, the applicant must already hold a non-commercial license (Class C), with a minimum of a year’s driving experience. 

Applicants can’t have any disqualifications or suspensions in any state. To drive within South Carolina, the applicant must be at least 18 years old. Travel between states requires that drivers be a minimum of 21 years old. When applying, the applicant must provide proof of South Carolina residence, proof of identity, proof of US citizenship, as well as a Social Security number. 

Evidence of mental and physical fitness will also be required, and they must meet the medical certification standards of South Carolina. Should the applicant be applying for additional endorsements, such as doubles and triples or Hazmat, a background check may be carried out. 

CDL Variations Available in South Carolina 

In South Carolina, there are three basic variations in the commercial drivers license. These are called Class A, Class B, and Class C. Here’s a rundown of what they mean:

Class A 

Any vehicle which tows trailers, or other vehicles, over a weight of 10,000 lbs requires this class. Any classification which falls into the Class B or C license is also included. 

Class B

This class allows for the operation of any single vehicle over 26,000 lbs, or which tows a trailer below 10,000 lbs. Any Class C classification is also included.

Class C

This license allows for the driving of any vehicle 26,000 lbs or less, which is designed to carry 16 passengers, including the driver. It may also cover vehicles carrying hazardous materials. 

Beyond the classifications themselves, there are further specifications relating to particular uses of the commercial vehicle, such as hazardous materials (Hazmat), passenger vehicles, school buses, tankers, vehicles fitted with air brakes, and double and triple trailers. 

These are all examples of specific variations which will require specific training. They also require special knowledge and/or examination. Some will require additional background checks, especially Hazmat and school bus licenses. 

Review of the Best CDL Trucking Schools in South Carolina

In education, as in life, if one can afford it, an individual looking for education wishes to attend the best possible institution available for one’s career, and truckers in South Carolina are no exception. The schools listed below are the very best trucking institutions in Palmetto State, listed in alphabetical order. 

Remember that this guide is the first step and is meant to help you in a general way. For detailed and specific information pertaining to your needs, we highly recommend that you contact schools directly yourself and do diligent research on your choices. 

1. Truck Driver Institute

  • Location: Richburg, SC
  • Website: Truck Driver Institute South Carolina
  • Average Tuition Cost: $5,000 
  • Average Class Size: Variable
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Unavailable
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:3 (yard), 1:1 (road)

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Truck Driver Institute           

This school offers CDL certifications in the standard Class A, Class B, and Class C licenses. The program features a mandatory classroom period, after which the training begins in the yard. From the yard, the applicant receives on the road training with qualified instructors. Additional endorsements must be obtained outside of the school. 

Program Details 

The Truck Driving Institute has access to an 18-acre facility, a one-to-one student-to-truck ratio, connections to multiple trucking companies, and a 92% job acceptance rate in the industry. Truck Driver Institute is nationwide and boasts comprehensive relationships with industry partners throughout the country.

2. SAGE Truck Driving School

  • Location: Columbia, SC
  • Website: SAGE Truck Driving School 
  • Average Tuition Cost: $5,000
  • Average Class Size: Variable
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Professional Truck Driver Institute
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1 (road)

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By SAGE Truck Driving School

SAGE offers tractor-trailer training, commercial driver education basics, and advanced Class A CDL training, which will grant Class A, Class B, and Class C licenses. The program consists of 150 to160 hours of tuition, divided between class, yard, and road. 

Additionally, SAGE runs refresher courses (80 hours) for advanced CDL courses, featuring defensive tactics and general enhancements to your CV. 

Program Details

SAGE has a one-to-one student-to-truck ratio, connections to multiple trucking companies,  and a 92% job acceptance rate in the industry. The course features the ProDriver U program, which is an online learning platform for the written side of the license.

In addition, SAGE runs an externship program whereby they continue on-the-job training at an outside partner company, to settle in new recruits. This provides a smooth transition from study to employment, which is a real draw for a new recruit looking for a career. 

3. Tri-County Technical College

  • Location: Anderson, SC
  • Website: Tri-County Technical College 
  • Average Tuition Cost: $5,700
  • Average Class Size: Variable
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Public Safety
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1 (road), 1:4 (yard)

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Tri-County Technical College

Tri-County only offers two options instead of three: Class A, which takes about six weeks, and Class B, which takes about two weeks. There are night classes too, which take a little longer. The course outline is 50 hours classroom, 50 hours field instruction, 16 hours behind the wheel, and 32 hours observation. 

Program Details 

The student-to-truck ratio at Tri-County is 4:1 (yard) and 1:1 (road driving). Not only does the school have multiple ties in the industry, but company representatives will also come down to the school and observe classes to search for talented students. 

The school uses late model tractor trailers for the yard and road sections of the training, and the duration of the course is a total of more than 160 hours.

4. Palmetto Training Inc.

  • Locations: Waterboro, SC; North Charleston, SC; Sumter, SC
  • Website: Palmetto Training Inc. 
  • Average Tuition Cost: $5,500
  • Average Class Size: Variable
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Unavailable
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1 (road), 1:4 (observation/yard)

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Palmetto Training Inc.

Palmetto Training offers a six-week program that provides Class A licensing. The course is six weeks in duration and covers 148 hours of training and tuition. The course is divided into the classroom (50 hours), on the road (16 hours), and observation (32 hours) sections for every student. 

There are both weekday and weekend options, with the weekend classes of longer duration for those who are a little busy during the day. 

Program Details 

The student-to-truck ratio is 4:1 (observation/yard) and 1:1 (behind the wheel). The school trains students in a variety of technical trades and is involved in partnerships across several industries including the transport sector.

5. Florence-Darlington Technical College

  • Location: Florence, SC
  • Website: Florence-Darlington Technical College 
  • Average Tuition Cost: $3,895
  • Average Class Size: Variable 
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Unavailable
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:4 (observation/yard), 1:1 (road)

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Florence-Darlington Technical College

Florence-Darlington offers a Class A licensing program that lasts five weeks. The observational section of the training lasts for around 50 hours, with the student having a minimum of 16 hours of behind-the-wheel time. 

Program Details

Florence-Darlington has a 1:4 student to truck ratio during the observational section and variable class sizes. They boast wide-ranging connections throughout the industry, including close links to 20 transport companies. They have a near-perfect graduation rate too. 

Additionally, they have funding options through the Workforce Investment Act, Veterans Association, the Trade Act Program, and the Supplemental Assistance Program.

6. Miller-Motte College

  • Locations: Charleston, SC; Conway, SC
  • Website: Miller-Motte College 
  • Average Tuition Cost: $4,500
  • Average Class Size: Variable 
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 1:1 (road)

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Miller-Motte College

Miller-Motte has a Class A program that lasts about four weeks, covering a total of 150 hours of training. This encompasses classroom, yard, and on the road sections of the course. The course covers such details as driver technique, weight and size laws, safety regulations, and more. 

Additionally, Miller-Motte offers refresher courses of shorter duration for those who already hold a CDL license but want to brush up on their skills. Focus throughout the courses is on the practical and legal knowledge behind big rig driving. 

Program Details 

The program has access to trucking equipment and has a greater emphasis on practical training. Miller-Motte has several locations nationwide and good relationships with industry throughout the country.

7. Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College

  • Location: Orangeburg, SC
  • Website: Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College 
  • Average Tuition Cost: $3,040
  • Average Class Size: Variable
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: Unavailable

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Orangeburg-Calhoun

Orangeburg-Calhoun offers training in preparation for Class A licensing and provides a thorough foundation for the state certification. It’s a mixed learning structure featuring aspects of online and in-class experience. 

Program Details 

Orangeburg-Calhoun’s program is relatively new, and the course features many facets of the business of modern truck driving, from the practical side all the way through to the business and financial sides of the industry.

It’s a unique course that fully prepares students for everything the industry may throw at them once they enter into a career in the logistics and freight world.

Considerations When Choosing a Trucking School in South Carolina

Before you select one of these schools, we have a few factors for you to consider. These items are essential for making the right decision.

Cost

There are a lot of companies out there who will tell tales and gladly accept your cash for very little in return. The average cost of a CDL program will be in the region of $5,000 and that’s a good yardstick by which to measure the programs’ costs. 

Much lower than that, and you ought to worry about the quality. Much higher, and you need to wonder what you’re getting.

Facilities

Doing a CDL training course means you’ll need neat and spacious classes, with smallish class sizes. Otherwise, learning starts to get difficult, in terms of concentration and logistics. You’ll also need access to the materials, so that must be provided. More importantly, the practical facilities must be decent.

Yard facilities and good late-model trucks are crucial to your study, so be sure to contact folks directly to find out what they offer. There’s really no substitute for having the right tools for your studies. 

Accreditation

Knowing that your school has impartial and external accreditation is a load off your mind. It means you can concentrate on your learning without worrying all the time about your education. If your school is legit then your focus can be where it ought to be.

Industry Links

There’s nothing quite as reassuring as seeing the industry links offered by your CDL school and knowing that they’ll put your name out there for hire once you’ve gained your license. What you know is certainly important, but who you know can make that valuable difference and set you on your path to success with ease. 

Why Drive Trucks in South Carolina?

You may be wondering why you’d want to drive trucks in this State. There are a few reasons worth looking at, which we provide below.

Stability

Waking up in the morning and knowing your job is rock-solid is a great feeling. Nowadays, not everyone has that. Trucking jobs aren’t just solid; truckers are also in high demand across the country and the vacancies grow too fast to fill year by year. 

There are nowhere near enough licensed drivers to fill the jobs created annually. And without truckers, our country would cease to exist. Simple as that. 

Career Advancement

For hard-working people that are prepared to shoulder the load, the sky’s the limit. A lot of folks start out at the bottom of the industry, and by putting in the work, they find themselves going up and up in the world. 

Adding endorsements like Hazmat or triple trailers will bump you up incrementally until you’re earning seriously good money.

Benefits

Packages offered by companies will vary from place to place and over time. Nevertheless, the benefits offered in the trucking industry are fairly decent when compared to other similar careers. A lot of places have really comprehensive medical and dental coverage, paid vacation, and even retirement options available right after you walk in the door. 

Truck Driving Salary and Job Outlook in South Carolina

The average salary for a truck driver in the US is high and this is also true of trucker salaries in South Carolina. Of course, salary is based on all kinds of different measures and is also dependent on the company and type of work.

Entry-Level 

Entry-level truckers can expect to be earning around $40,000 annually pretty soon after joining up, and starting salaries of $45,000 aren’t surprising. If you’re the type of person who works hard, you can expect to have your salary increase nicely over time. 

Mid-Level

Mid-level truckers who’ve been loyal to their company, and maybe added some useful specialized licenses over the years, can look forward to annual pay upwards of $60,000. When you add in the great benefits widely available throughout the sector, that’s a really good salary.

Master-Level 

Master-level truckers have seen it all. They know the industry backward and forward, know the customers, know the suppliers, and have been around everything. Along the way, they’ve specialized in their particular area,d have all the requisite licensing. They often even own their trucks too. For a seasoned owner-driver, an annual income of $100,000 is no fantasy at all. 

Conclusion 

Trucking is a great career option. No need to saddle yourself with a lifetime of suffocating college debt, or spend years wallowing in training sessions. You gain your CDL, and you ease your way into a lifelong job that grows with time and effort. 

Five years from now, and then five after that, you’re bringing home the earnings in one of the most stable and desirable careers around. Long haul will usually pay better than local, so if you like the freedom of the open road, you can earn that little extra.

Also, tankers and Hazmat certifications will bump you up, and there’s just a whole host of genuine options out there in an industry which has to keep on growing to support the country. You could do a lot worse than being a trucker, that’s for sure. 

People Also Ask

Here are a few questions we’ve received from our readers or we found online. Feel free to ask us anything if you need more information.

Do Trucking Companies in South Carolina Pay You to Get Your CDL?

Yes, some do. It’ll be something you should check on with individual companies. Other companies will reimburse your expenses, by way of a welcome package when you join up. It’s really worth checking out ahead of time. 

Can You Get Financial Aid for Trucking School in South Carolina?

Yes. The average loan amount will vary quite a bit according to a host of criteria, so you’ll need to do a little research here before you decide. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get a CDL in South Carolina?

You’re looking at around the $5,000 mark for the CDL, all things combined. Much lower or higher than that, and you should start wondering why the discrepancy is there. 

How Many Questions Are on the CDL Permit Test in South Carolina?

There are 50 questions on the CDL permit test in South Carolina, and you’re going to need to nail 40 of those for the pass. It’s an 80% minimum for the passing grade. 

Do You Have to Go to Trucking School to Get a CDL in South Carolina?

It’s technically possible to get your CDL without attending a school, but difficult. You’d have to get the experience behind the wheel some other way and learn all the knowledge independently. Also, most companies want to see the school certificate when they hire, so that’s a problem.



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.