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Since 1986 PTDI has safeguarded trucking excellence by certifying those truck driver training organizations go the extra mile. 

North America's trucking schools have depended on us to keep them at their best.

Go beyond basic compliance and ensure your training organization rises above the competition.


PTDI Can Help Your School

PTDI standards raise the level of quality of your program. 

From behind the wheel hours, to instructor development, to facilities and student satisfaction. Your school will benefit from the standardized curriculum.  We can help get you there if you are not already. 

In the new landscape of the ELDT, PTDI Certification gives you the market edge.  Demonstrate to students, carriers and insurers that you exceed basic government compliance.



      • Improves the efficiency and effectiveness of your school operations.
      • Certification utilizes curriculum standards developed by the industry and recognized as the gold standard in driver education.
      • Ensures your program meets government requirements and serves as validation.
      • Increases your school's credibility within the industry.
      • Encourages better trainers, consistent and reliable training.
      • Increases the quality and quantity of future employment opportunities for your students.  

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about PTDI, standards, certification, and more.

What are PTDI standards?

PTDI is a nonprofit that develops and maintains entry level truck driver training standards.  These standards are industry best practices determined by a variety of stakeholders such as carriers, insurance companies, training schools, other associations.  PTDI Entry level training standards include three areas: skills, curriculum and certification (operations).  Using the standards will provide training organizations a framework for quality truck driver training.  Learn more about the standards and why they are important.

What is PTDI Certification? 

PTDI Certification verifies a truck driver training program meets or exceeds the PTDI standards.  This means a training organization must provide evidence that demonstrates how its course meets the requirements in the skill, curriculum and certification standards.  You can earn certification by successfully completing the review process.  Once the Certification Commission can fully verify your program, certification is awarded.

I use the PTDI standards.  Am I certified? 

No, using the standards does not mean your program is certified.  Certification is the process of demonstrating and verifying your program meets the requirements of the PTDI standards.  Saying a program uses standards is much different than demonstrating to a third party your program meets the standards.  PTDI Certification can only be granted by PTDI and certified courses/programs are listed on this web site.  Only courses that wish to be listed are posted.  PTDI pursues legal action against schools who falsely claim certification

How do I get my truck driver training course certified?

Find details of the complete Certification process on the entry level certification page.  The process includes the following: Take the readiness survey;  review the standards and curriculum; complete the initial application and payment;  add your course information to your Certification profile; and have PTDI visit your site to review your program. The PTDI Certification Commission reviews and awards certification based on how you demonstrate your program meets the standards.

What is the Certification process like?

After you complete your initial application, you will need to create your Certification Profile.  The certification profile collects details in 9 sections.  After you submit your profile, PTDI reviews and then a visit is conducted.  It is required to physically come visit your site for initial certification.  After visiting, the Commission makes the certification decision.  Annually you will need to update your Certification Profile, complete a self-assessment survey, and pay the renewal fee.  Every fifth year, a visit (you choose onsite or virtual) is required for recertification.  See the Entry Level Driver Certification page for more information.

Please note - the school must demonstrate their program meets the standards.  The burden of proof is on the school.

Why do you offer certification and not accreditation?

Accreditation is typically used for institutions not programs.  For instance, a College is accredited but a nursing or driving program is certified.  PTDI offers certification of a specific program or course to ensure the level of quality has been verified by an outside third party.  Find more on the entry level driver certification page.

I'm a member of NAPFTDS or CVTA.  Do I need Certification?

Yes. In most cases, you probably want to do both - be certified and join a training association.  PTDI is a nonprofit develops standards for entry level driver training and finishing programs.  As such, the organization is committed to establishing industry best practices (standards) and verifying programs meet or exceed those standards.  PTDI is not a member organization.  There are important benefits such as continuing education, advocacy and networking that you receive through organizations like CVTA and NAPFTDS.

Why do I need certification if I must comply with the government's ELDT regulations?

Distinguish your program from the competition by showing you don't just meet the minimums, you exceed them!

The FMCSA's Entry Level Driver Training Regulation (ELDT) requires all training programs meet minimum requirements in order to be listed on the FMCSA's Training Provider Registry (TPR).  Only schools on the TPR can provide training accepted by state licensing agencies.  This levels the playing field.  The minimum will now be expected. 

While the ELDT is based largely on PTDI standards, there are notable differences required by PTDI such as: instructor qualifications, actual driving time, specific skill demonstrations, ethical marketing and more.  These are important areas that separate quality programs and professional drivers! 

How much does certification cost?

Initial certification costs depend on whether you are certifying one site or multiple site and one course or multiple courses.  For one program at one site, initial certification costs $4500.  This is an inclusive, flat fee which covers all the costs of initial certification.  Annual fees also vary based on the same factors.  See the price breakdown on the entry level driver Certification page.

What does the initial certification fee include?

PTDI Certification is a flat fee that includes the Certification Profile, site visit, travel, lodging, meals, program review and feedback.  The certifications standards and forms/templates are also included in the fee.  The timeline, fees, visit information and benefits of certification are on  the entry level driver Certification page.

Am I eligible for certification?

In addition to meeting the PTDI standards, the program for which you are seeking certification must have graduated a minimum of fifteen (15) students within the twelve (12) months preceding the application (or for start -up schools, within the first 12 months of operation.)  This standard may be waived for extenuating circumstances. 

We encourage you to complete the pre-qualification survey on our home page to evaluate your program's certification readiness.

What types of schools get their courses PTDI certified?

Organizations that provide truck driver training.  These include: Publicly-funded institutions such as community colleges and technical schools; private institutions, and carrier schools.  Remember, however, that PTDI certifies courses NOT training organizations. Learn more about Entry Level Certification.

Driver Finishing certification is available for all types of trucking companies.  Learn more on the Driver Finishing page.

I am planning to open a truck driving school. How can PTDI help me?

We suggest that you start by reviewing the standards. Get the Training Package from the PTDI store.  These give you a good basis for starting your school. The skill and curriculum standards detail what should be taught and the certification standards give minimums for administration, instructors, facilities, equipment, record keeping, etc. These standards are minimums as determined by the industry. You will need to find out what entity in your state licenses or approves schools and whether instructor licensing is required. You might want to see whether a carrier would partner with you to provide support and/or equipment.

What is the Certification Profile?

The Certification Profile is a one stop shop that saves information about your truck driver training course.  The profile is how we learn about and get the documentation about your course.  PTDI reviews your profile, along with the site visit, to determine certification.  The profile is divided into 9 sections each corresponding with a category of the certification standards.  You must complete a Certification Profile initially and the update at least once annually to maintain certification.  While information is saved and you can return to update it at any time, you are only required to actually submit the changes one a year.  The Profile brings together the information you will need for the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.  Watch the VIDEO and find further information on the Certification profile page.

How do I access the Profile?  How do I access PTDI standards, forms and templates?

The Certification Profile is only available to Certification applicants and Certified Courses.  Standards, resources, curriculum and other products are available for purchase.

PTDI has two systems: (1) the Certification profile; and (2) your individual PTDI account.  They have separate logons crendentials. 

(1) The Certification Profile is for to upload information about your program/course.  There is a single school username and password for this system that gives you access to all nine sections of the Profile.  A school receives logon credentials after a certification application has been received.  Current applicants and existing certified schools can contact PTDI if they need their Profile credentials.

(2) The PTDI Account is for accessing standards, a breakdown of the Profile, forms, templates and other certification resources.  When purchasing the standards or applying for certification you will receive a logon and password.  Current applicants and existing certified schools always have access to the latest versions and may contact PTDI if they need their logon credentials.

What does a site visit entail?

Site visits can by either physical (in person) or virtual (video conference).  Site visits are required for initial certification and then every 5 years.  Initial certification requires a physical onsite visit.  A school can elect physical onsite or virtual visit for their 5 year recertification. 

Before the visit can take place, you must complete your certification profile and have it reviewed.  Then a pre-visit meeting is held between PTDI and the school.  Virtual visits require meeting specific technology requirements.  In both cases the reviewer will look at your facilities, equipment, vehicles, classrooms, and more.  Review the visit information on the Entry Level Driver Certification page for more details.

How do I renew my certification each year?  Where do I submit my annual report?

Renewals are completed by updating your Certification Profile annually during your renewal period.  The renewal fee can be paid online or by check.  PTDI no longer accepts old annual reports -- they have been replaced by the Certification Profile.  Programs are only required to submit their profile once during the renewal period.  If there are significant changes to your program before renewal, update and submit your certification profile.  Check the Certification Profile page for more information.

What is PTDI certifiable time?

PTDI requires a minimum of 148 total hours of training time.  This is a combination of classroom, lab and behind-the-wheel.  Certifiable time must be documented and must be actual learning/training time.  Behind-the-wheel time is actual hands on the wheel driving time.  This means certifiable time does not include breaks, lunches or in-cab observation.

Do the standards require 104 hours of classroom time?

The standards require a minimum 104 hours of a combination of classroom and lab time. Lab time includes such activities as pre-trip inspections, instructor demonstrations and simulator training. Also, up to one third of classroom time may be properly documented independent study (which is not the same as homework).  The 104 hours must be divided among specific PTDI defined units.  Check the curriculum standards to see the training units, hours of training required for each unit and more about the total hour requirement.

What are the Behind the Wheel hour requirements?

Behind the Wheel time means the student has direct control of the vehicle.  Assuming 60 minute hours, PTDI requires 44 hours of BTW instruction.  Of the 44 hours, 12 must be on the highway.  The remaining 32 hours can be any combination of range and highway BTW time.  A minimum of 1 hour must be at night.  Six hours must be on the highway with a loaded trailer of 15,000 pounds.

How does entering hours into my Certification Profile work?

Section 2 of your Certification Profile asks for the advertised training time of your program broken down according to the units in the PTDI curriculum standards.  The curriculum standards explain what training/skills fall within which units.  Within each unit in your profile, you are asked how much time was in the classroom, lab, by distance learning, independent student, behind the wheel, breaks, lunch and in-cab observation.  The system then totals everything for you.  The total hours for each unit should add up to the total hours in the course.  The profile automatically subtracts the break, lunch and in cab observation time to provide the actual certifiable training time.  Section 6 of the profile asks for actual training hours a student received.  The format for entering actual student hours is similar to section 2.

Where can I find training materials?

A variety of resources are available to start, develop and operate your program.  The standards, curriculum and other certification forms are available from the PTDI store.  PTDI has also helped develop textbooks and partners with Cengage to produce and distribute the publications.  You can find the textbooks on the training materials page.  To earn and maintain PTDI certification you are not required to use PTDI training materials.  You can use your own, provided they meet the PTDI standards. 

What if my training program can't meet a requirement in the PTDI standards?

The PTDI Certification Commission reviews and considers each program individually and how that program demonstrates it meets PTDI standards.  In some cases schools may not meet a standard in a conventional manner.  For these cases, a school may request a variance.  To do so a school must clearly and fully explain the standard they cannot meet, why it cannot be fulfilled and the alternative method the program uses to adhere to the intent of the standard.  The information can be submitted in Section 7 of the school's Certification Profile.  The Commission does not guarantee variance requests will be approved.

Can I use the PTDI standards in my curriculum?  Can I add things?

Yes, the PTDI standards are a framework you can use to build out your program's curriculum.  You will need to add more content, specific lesson plans and more to create your own program.  You may want to use the certification-ready PTDI curriculum (syllabi and lesson plans).  Training materials are available if you need them, but you can also use your own.  The PTDI standards are minimums.  You can always supplement with additional training elements so long as they do not conflict or detract from the minimum requirements.  The standards and resources (templates, forms, etc.) are available for purchase.  If you apply for certification or have a certified program you always have access to the most current version of the standards and resources.  PTDI standards are copyrighted and should not be shared or duplicated without permission.

How long do I need to keep PTDI records?

Minimums according to PTDI standards:

  • Always keep your original certification paperwork and any approved variances.
  • Keep 5 years of annual reports
  • Keep the most recent 5 year recertification.
  • Student training records need to be maintained for at least 5 years.
  • Most schools keep enrollment and graduate info indefinitely.
  • Federal and state rules may require more in some cases.
  • A note about approved variances…they should be entered in section 7 of the profile and the documents confirming they were approved are also uploaded to section 7 of the profile.

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