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How To Apply For A CDL In Trucking

Updated: Mar 16

Driving an 80,000 lb monster big rig is a challenge, so it makes sense you need to get a specific type of license to operate one. There is a process to get a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), so this blog provides you with the information and steps you need to take in order to get your CDL and start driving your truck.

Step 1: Apply for your Commercial Driver's License

Review CDL requirements

You must be at least 21 years old to drive your truck across state lines or work for a trucking company involved in interstate commerce, although you can get your CDL at 18 years old. Each state has its own age, residency, and medical requirements so make sure to visit your state's CDL manual to now the requirements for you.

Decide which type of vehicle you will be driving

There are 3 types of classifications of CDL's - Class A, B, and C.

  • Class A: Operates any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, including towed vehicles heavier than 10,000 lbs. Examples: Tractor trailers, truck and trailer combos, double and triple trailers, live stock carriers, and flatbeds.

  • Class B: Operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or heavier AND/OR any vehicle as previously described that is towing another vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Examples: Straight trucks, large buses, and box trucks.

  • Class C: May be required if the vehicle does not meet the criteria for either a Class A or Class B license, if it is meant to transport at least 16 passengers, including the driver, OR hazardous material (HAZMAT) as laid out by federal guidelines. Examples: Small HAZMAT vehicles, passenger vans, and small truck towing a trailer.

Depending on what type of work you will be doing with your truck, there are different types of certifications and endorsements. The fee and test will be determined on which class and endorsement you choose.

Complete the CDL application

Your state will provide you with a specific form you must complete to apply for your CDL. The form requires a 10-year record check as part of the CDL application process, so be prepared for that. You can fill out this form at your local DMV.

Step 2: Get your CDL permit

Collect all required documents

You will need: an ID, proof of citizenship status, and proof of residency. There may be other required documents depending on the state, so make sure you check so you can prepare.

Pass the written test

Once you have handed in your CDL application at your local DMV with all the requirement documents, you can take the written test. You need to pass this test before getting your permit to demonstrate your knowledge of the rules of the road. The exam consists of general knowledge, air brakes, and combination vehicles. The CDL handbook provides the information you need to study.

Complete your background check]

You may be required to pass a background check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to drive across state lines or transport hazardous materials.

Practice your driving skills and complete your training

You can start practice driving with a driver that already has a CDL once you get your permit. Some state may require you to complete a state-approved training class before being able to take the skills test for your CDL.

Step 3: Get your CDL and start driving

Schedule your skills test

Schedule your driving test once your comfortable and ready to drive. These tests book up quickly so you may need to schedule it months in advance.

Pass the test

Before you get your full CDL, you are required to pass a CDL driving skills test with an examiner. The test depends on the type of vehicle you plan on driving and must be taken in the vehicle you will be driving once you get your CDL. Once you pass the test, you'll be issued your CDL and you can start driving on your own.

Even if you have your CDL, it is not legal for you to drive your truck without your MC authority. Fill out the form below to file for your authority for FREE and be once step closer to hauling loads!!