Employeer Resources

Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Test Preparation and Driver Training

The information below outlines the process and requirements for participation in Mitchell Technical College Class A CDL Driver Training. This is not a professional truck driver training course, but an individual Class A CDL test preparation and driver skills training that meets the requirements for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). Mitchell Technical College is a registered provider for FMCSA ELDT.    

This training may be available during late spring or summer months depending upon instructor availability.

Step 1 – Obtain A Sd Class A, With Air Brakes, Commercial Drivers Learner Permit (CLP)

You will need to obtain a Class A, with air-brakes, SD Commercial Driver’s Learner Permit (CLP) before you begin any driver training with Mitchell Technical College. The CLP is valid for 1 year. For additional information regarding South Dakota Commercial Driver’s License requirements see – https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing/commercial-drivers-license 

You will need a copy of the South Dakota CDL Manual to study and prepare for the tests required to obtain a CLP. The manual is available from any SD Driver’s License Testing location. The manual is also available online at https://dps.sd.gov/resource-library/Commercial-Driver-License-Manual.pdf-889

Requirements to obtain the CLP include:

  • You must have a valid South Dakota Driver’s License.
  • You must be 18 years or older.
  • You must owe less than $1,000 in child support in South Dakota. 
  • You must pass the knowledge tests outlined below.

Study the following chapters before taking the exam for the CLP.  You will need to test in all three areas. 

  • General Knowledge test – 50 questions – SD CDL Manual, Chapters 1, 2, 3
  • Air Brakes test – 25 questions – SD CDL Manual, Chapter 5 
  • Combination Vehicle – 20 questions – SD CDL Manual, Chapter 6

Take the practice exams for the tests above using the testing sites below. By reading the  chapters above and taking the practice exams you should be successful with your CLP testing. 

Take the CLP exam at any South Dakota Driver’s License Testing Office (link for locations). The exam is taken on a computer, will  cost $33 (for 3 attempts) and may be retaken if you do not obtain a passing score. 

Once you are a holder of a CLP you may drive a commercial motor vehicle only if accompanied by the holder of a CDL, who is 21 years of age, has a valid license for the type of vehicle driven, and occupies a seat beside the individual or directly behind if in a passenger vehicle for the purpose of giving instruction in driving the commercial motor vehicle.

Step 2 – Complete And Return The MTC CDL Training Agreement And Pay $750 Deposit

Review the Mitchell Technical College Training Agreement. You may also contact Mitchell Technical College to request a copy of the CDL Training Agreement to be emailed or sent via postal mail. This agreement outlines expectations and estimated costs of training. Those costs are summarized below and subject to change. 

  • $225/hour for pre-trip and driving training (minimum of 4 hours)
  • $225 for rental of Mitchell Tech truck for CDL 3rd Party testing
  • $85/hour for CDL simulator training if needed
  • $90 for 3rd party exam

Total costs will be determined by the number of hours required for the training. You will not be allowed to take the 3rd party driving exam until you have demonstrated the driving skills necessary to pass. Most students spend 8–16 hours training and driving with our instructors with total costs ranging from $3,000 – $4,000.   

Complete these tasks: 

  • Return the signed agreement to Mitchell Tech along with a copy of your CLP (permit)
  • Schedule dates/times for training – contact Dr. Carol Grode-Hanks, 605.995.7130 or email  to make arrangements. Training will be scheduled on a first come, first-serve basis upon receipt of the completed training agreement and $750 deposit. 
    • Note, there is a 14-day wait period after you get your permit until you can take the 3rd party driving exam
  • Pay $750 deposit to reserve your training times. See the training agreement for instructions regarding how to pay the deposit.   
Step 3 – Complete Your Training And Prepare For 3Rd Party Exam

The training will consist of 3-parts including: (see SD CDL Manual for more details regarding 3rd Party Testing and skills tested)

  1. Pre-Trip inspection – Read Chapter 11 of SD CDL Manual. Mitchell Tech has two trucks used for CDL training and you can view pre-inspection videos and checklists for each truck below:
  2. Basic Driver Control – Chapter 12 in the SD CDL Manual. 
  3. Open Road Driving – SD CDL Manual Chapter 13, our trainer will help you develop the skills to perform the driving maneuvers required to pass the 3rd Party CDL test. 

Once you have demonstrated competency in the 3 areas above, the Mitchell Technical College CDL instructor will assist you in scheduling your 3rd Party Test, including use of the MTC vehicle. After you successfully pass the 3rd party exam, and have paid any remaining charges to Mitchell Tech, you will be issued your SD Class A CDL. 

For additional information contact:

Dr. Carol Grode-Hanks
1800 E. Spruce St.
Mitchell, SD 57301
Phone: 605.995.7130
Email: [email protected]