CDL Schools In Tennessee

CDL Training in TN

Before we jump right into detail about CDL schools in Tennessee, there are some important things to know concerning CDL training in TN and everywhere in the US for that matter.  CDL training was previously optional until February 7, 2022 when the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) mandate came into effect.  Since that date anyone who wishes to earn a CDL or certain endorsements is now required to complete the appropriate training prior to making their CDL skills exam (aka Road Test) appointment. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the ELDT regulations are a federal law and apply to all states.  However, each state has the power to adopt additional or more strict requirements, but cannot implement lesser ones.  It’s also important to mention that all states follow basically the same requirements and procedures for acquiring a CDL.  There are some small variations or interpretations from state to state, but the CDL skills test is essentially the same in each.*

*Many states are rolling out the newly modernized CDL skills test format, but currently (May, 2024) Tennessee has not.


There a several ways to get a CDL in Tennessee and the cost can vary from $0 to $7,000 or more.  Let’s look at the least expensive options first!

Can you get free CDL training in Tennessee?  If you work for a company that is willing to provide the required CDL/ELDT training to you without charge, that would be one way.  If your company doesn’t provide training, our Mobile CDL Training services can help!  As a traveling provider in Tennessee, Elite ELDT can provide on-site behind-the-wheel training for businesses who wish to provide CDL training to their employees without charge.  If you’re a business owner who needs employees trained for their CDL, we’d love to hear from you!  

Elite ELDT’s Mobile CDL Training is less than half the time and cost of trucking school!  To learn more, CLICK HERE!

Other ways to get free or inexpensive CDL training in Tennessee would be to qualify for some type of financial aid (WIOA, Grants, GI Bill, etc.) and attend a school that accepts those funding sources. 

Attending CDL training at a Tennessee state technical college is usually is very affordable, especially if you qualify for any type of financial aid.  In state cost of CDL training is approximately $1300 not including school fees and or discounts for financial aid.  These courses tend to take lots of time, but are very thorough.

If you were going to pay for training at a privately owned CDL school in Tennessee, you could be looking at $3500 to $7000 or more.  Many of these schools offer financing and guaranteed job placement as well as a discounted cash price.  It’s important to keep in mind that you may not be cut out to drive a truck and therefore might not complete the training or get a CDL, however you would still owe the money for this training.  This can be very risky for some individuals.

If you get pre-hired by a company that sends you to CDL training while paying you a weekly salary, things may seem free or low cost at first.  However, you have to enter a contract to work off the cost of your training over a period of time.  If you decide to quit before that period is up, you will have to pay back the unpaid balance of your training.  Also, keep in mind that if you start this company provided or sponsored CDL training, but cannot finish for any reason, you will still have to pay for it all which can easily run $7,000 to $10,000.


As mentioned in the previous paragraph, all states follow the same basic procedures for getting a CDL.  That usually begins with an individual taking the written exam(s) to earn the commercial learner’s permit/CLP for the desired class of vehicle.  These are multiple choice tests that you can take at your state’s DMV, usually at any location although some require an appointment.  You must pass each test with an 80% or better.  So, how many questions are on the permit test in TN?  The answer is, the same as all the other states.  But to be more specific, see the info below.



# of Questions

# required to Pass

General Knowledge



Air Brake






Passenger Endorsement



Tanker Endorsement



Hazmat Endorsement



Doubles & Triples Endorsement



School Bus Endorsement



TN Commercial Driver’s License Manual

Entering any new career field is a big deal, especially one that can be dangerous like truck driving.  Although it’s not required, it is wise for anyone who is working towards becoming a CDL driver take the time to read through the TN Commercial Driver’s License Manual.  Many individuals make light of getting a CDL and want to cut corners with their training as if it’s not that important.  Please don’t be one of these people!  Learn as much as you can. I promise you will be glad you did! 

In fact, I want to share a quote with you that I once heard.  It said, “Let no man’s ghost return to say that his training let him down”.  Whether someone else is teaching you or you are learning on your own, the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be.  It could mean the difference between life or death!

Here’s a link to the TN Commercial Driver’s License Manual:  CLICK HERE


CDL Practice Test in Tennessee

Lots of people are seeking a CDL practice test in Tennessee.  I have two words for you, DMV Genie.  There are all sorts of practice test websites out there, but don’t even bother with them.  I’m afraid most are just trash.  My recommendation to anyone for CDL practice tests is to get an app called DMV Genie.  It’s simply the best.  If you do the practice tests, you will pass the CDL permit test in Tennessee the first time!


What is self certification you ask?  Well, when you get a commercial learner’s permit or CDL in Tennessee, you are asked to self certify.  This is basically when you let the DMV know what type of CDL driving you intend to engage in. 

There are four classifications for you to choose from.

  1. Non-excepted Interstate (NI) – I operate or expect to operate in interstate commerce and am required to maintain federal medical certification. (Medical Certificate/Card Required)
  2. Non-excepted Intrastate (NA) – I operate or expect to operate only in intrastate commerce and am required to meet FMCSA driver qualification requirements. (Medical Certificate/Card Required)
  3. Excepted Interstate (EI) – I operate or expect to operate in interstate commerce, but engage exclusively in operations that qualify me for exception from the requirement to maintain federal medical certification.
  4. Excepted Intrastate (EA) – I operate or expect to operate only in a city, county, state or federal vehicle only, and I am exempt from the FMCSA driver qualification requirements.