In order to operate large vehicles such as buses, semi trucks, tank trucks, you will need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are three different types of CDL classes. Each one allows you to operate different types of large vehicles. Certain jobs require you to have endorsements on your CDL. Endorsements include passenger, tank and hazardous materials. In addition obtaining your commercial driver’s license, you will have to pass a specialized knowledge exam in order to obtain an endorsement. CDL requirements vary by state. Check your state’s requirements before getting your CDL.
Earning a CDL is the first and most important step if you plan to hit the road in a commercial motorized vehicle. Before taking the CDL tests, familiarize yourself with the rules and requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Each state has a different application process and set of fees.
Here are the minimum requirements for obtaining a CDL:
- 21 years of age
- Have a valid non-commercial driver’s license
- Provide proof of state and US residency
- Provide identity and social security number verification (check your state’s requirements)
- Submit your state’s CDL application
- Pass a knowledge exam
- Submit a completed Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a road skills test
What Are the Different Types of CDL Classes?
There are three different types of commercial driver’s licenses: Class A, B and C.
A Class A CDL allows drivers to operate vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,0001 or more. This includes towed units with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. Most large trucks pulling a detachable trailer are Class A CDL vehicles.
Common Class A CDL vehicles:
- Livestock carriers
- Truck and trailer combinations
- Tractor-trailer buses
A Class B CDL allows drivers to operate any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more. It is also required to operate a vehicle towing a trailer that does not exceed a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds.
Common Class B CDL vehicles:
- Straight trucks
- City buses
- School buses
- Tourist buses
- Delivery trucks
- Dump trucks
A Class C CDL allows drivers to transport 16 or more passengers. It is also required to transport hazardous materials that do not meet the Class A and B CDL classifications.
Common Class C CDL vehicles:
- Small HazMat Vehicles
- Passenger vans
- Combination vehicles not covered by Class A or B