Driving commercial vehicles can be a lucrative career path, and one with a lot of opportunity. However in order to drive any type of commercial vehicle in the United States, you’ll first need to get your Commercial Driving License (CDL). At first glance getting a CDL may look a bit confusing, but there is a streamlined way to go about it:
Review The Requirements For The Type Of CDL You Need
The first thing you should know is that there are three classes of CDL depending on the type of vehicle that you drive, and some vehicles may require additional endorsements as well. On top of that different states have different requirements for various types of CDLs too.
Because of that your first step should be to get a copy of the CDL manual from your state DMV and go over the requirements to see if you meet them. Some state DMVs have digital manuals that can be downloaded, but if not you’ll need to visit the local DMV office. Be sure to check that you meet the minimum age requirement, and have all the other necessary documents – such as a valid driver’s license, medical examination, copy of your driving record, and so on. You will need these documents for your commercial insurance too.
Sit For The Written Test To Get A CDL Permit
To start getting a CDL you will first need to apply then sit for a general written test and pass to get your CDL permit. The subject material that you will be tested on will be in the manual, and it is the perfect resource to study from.
Another helpful way to prepare for the written test is to try CDL permit practice tests so that you have a better idea of what to expect. If you are taking additional endorsements, you may need to sit for other written tests as well.
Complete Any Other Training Or Requirements
Depending on the state that you’re in, you may need to complete a state-approved training class before you can sit for the CDL skills test and get your license. Aside from that some endorsements may have additional certifications or tests that are required as well. In particular, if you are going to be driving across state lines or transporting hazardous material in a heavy vehicle, you may need to go through a TSA background check.
Schedule And Pass The CDL Skills Test
Assuming you’ve met all the other requirements, the final step is to schedule and pass your CDL skills test. Most states will require you to have had a valid CDL permit for at least 2 weeks before taking the skills test, and some may have a waiting list. The test itself will be taken on the exact type of vehicle that you’re driving, and the examiner will evaluate your performance while you drive and perform common operations. If you pass you’ll get your CDL, and if not you’ll have to re-take it.
As you can see it really isn’t all that complicated to get a CDL, despite the requirements that it entails. Now that you know what you need to do – it is up to you to decide whether you want to pursue a career path as a commercial vehicle driver.