Receiving your commercial driver’s license (CDL) means you are part of an industry that forms the backbone of the United States economy. In 2015 alone, the country’s transportation system moved a daily average of 49.3 million tons of freight with a valued of more than $52.5 billion.
Getting a commercial driver’s license isn’t just about having the legal ability to drive a truck, it’s about taking on a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. So, it’s no surprise why getting a CDL isn’t as straightforward as getting an ordinary driver’s license.
If you’re thinking of getting a CDL A & B license, here’s what you should do:
Take the CDL Course
Although a commercial driver’s course is not a requirement in most states, it’s still a good idea to take it anyway to prepare for the required CDL tests. Training normally runs for about three to four weeks, so every bit of preparation helps.
Look Up Your State’s Driver’s License Handbook
Next, read your state’s CDL handbook to know the requirements. There are three CDL classifications (A, B, and C), each one distinguished by the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) among other things.
- Class A license holders can drive vehicles with a combined truck-trailer weight of 26,001 pounds or more. The towed trailer truck can be over 10,000 pounds.
- Class B license holders can drive vehicles with a weight of 26,001 pounds or more, but the towed trailer can only have a maximum weight of 10,000 pounds.
- Class C license holders can only drive vehicles with a max weight of 26,001 pounds. Towed trailers can be over 10,000 pounds, provided the combined weight of the truck and trailer does not breach the 26,001-pound limit.
Bear in mind that the CDL classification you choose doesn’t just determine the kind of vehicle you can drive, but also the endorsements you need to get.
Go to the DMV
Visit your local DMV and bring with you your driver’s license and social security card. Fill up the CDL application with your personal detail and indicate the CDL classification you want to qualify for.
Take the CDL Written Test
The number of CDL written tests you need to take depends on the license class and endorsements you need to acquire. The test usually involves inspecting a vehicle similar to what you can expect to drive and complete a written test that covers the fundamentals of driving laws and CDD regulations. Passing applicants get a permit to move to the next stage of the process.
Take the CDL Skills Test
The CDL skills test will evaluate your actual driving skills. Again, check your state’s CDL requirements—some states require applicants to take the test no later than 6 months after receiving their permit. Applicants who pass the skills test will receive their CDL license with the appropriate endorsements.
Once you have your commercial driver’s license, you can start looking for a truck driver job. Get in touch with the staffing specialists of Top Notch Personnel to expedite your search. Contact our offices to learn how our services can help you.