There are no DOT standards or requirements for the training of CDL drivers only testing. You can walk into the DMV in your hometown and pick up the study manual, study the manual, pay the fees, and take the test. You will however need a truck to do the road test in and that's it.
Most companies that hire student drivers have a standard which is normally 120 hours from an accredited school. Every company is different so call around to a few companies you are interested in and see how many hours they require.
Why the short course vs. the long course:
Some students already have their class B and have been driving for sometime.
Some students are laid off or unemployed and need to receive min. required hours to find a job and return to the work force.
Some students have jobs and take the longer course to work it into their schedule
Some students want the full training and practice to have more jobs available to them and feel comfortable with the skills
Company sponsored training vs. non-company sponsored training
Their are far to many reasons to explain here why company sponsored/paid training is a very bad idea, if you really want to know there are a lot threads on this web site alone explaining the down falls and horror stories driver have been thru fulfilling those contracts.
So I will explain some of the benefits of attending a non-company sponsored schooling path.
1. Most accredited schools have FASFA and other financing options. Some state labor agencies even have free money.
2. Most schools offer lifetime job placement and normally know who is hiring locally before it is even advertised.
3. Most schools will have you pre-hired before you even finish schooling
4. If you attend a non-company sponsored training you receive all of the tax credits and deductions and NOT the company. Like tuition, books, maps, clothes, pens & pencils, notebooks, cost of a laptop/computer, cost of a printer, ink, paper, cost of the medical exam, permitting fees, meals, travel expenses, etc..
5. Normally you will start with a higher CPM rate than drivers coming out of their own school.
6. Most companies have tuition reimbursement up to $10,000 which is paid directly to you weekly or monthly with no contract.
7. You can leave the company anytime you want because you owe them ZERO!
8. When you are in school you may find you like hauling something different than what you thought or you may receive better job offers. You are not locked into one company for the next 12-15 months so you can do whatever you want.