How do I get a CDL?

With soaring demand for truck drivers comes a wonderful opportunity. For those who have a CDL, finding a good paying job with a great employer is easier than ever before. To access the opportunity, though, you’ll need to have a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL. While each state varies, the training, amount of time it takes to qualify, and the process is similar.

How to get your CDL.

1. Learn about your state requirements.

Review the rules and requirements for being issued a CDL in your state. Depending on where you live, there will be specific details about driver age, training, education, and licensing requirements. Your state will have a manual or handbook that outlines the qualifications needed and the licensing process itself. Each step will be detailed on the state Department of Motor Vehicles website – you can also go to the DMV in person to get the information you need. You’ll need to be 21 years of age, be able to provide proof of your identity, and pass a physical before you can start the process.

2. Qualify for a permit.

A CDL requires a permit, just like a regular driver’s license does. You’ll need to take and pass one or more written tests that cover the CDL rules for your location. You can prepare for the test by studying the free driver’s handbook offered by each state. Topics vary but can include general knowledge, rules and regulations, safety, and braking. Once you successfully complete the testing, you will be issued a Class A Permit and can proceed to the next step. Most locations require to you wait at least two weeks before taking your practical driving tests.

3. Study and apply for endorsements.

If you want to haul more than standard freight, you’ll need to successfully pass more tests; these endorsements allow you to haul specific materials and goods that are hazardous to have on the roadway. HazMat testing and similar endorsements may also require a background check before they can be added to your license.

4. Take your driving test.

In order to qualify for a full CDL, you’ll need to pass a practical exam that covers a pre-trip inspection, driving, safety, and more. This ensures you are truly ready to take to the road and can safely navigate the roadways in a big rig.  You’ll need to bring your own vehicle for testing purposes.

Preparing for your CDL.

While you can go it alone, working with a driver’s training school or taking a specialty program that helps you prepare for your CDL testing can make the process easier. The requirements for the test remain the same, but you’ll have some additional hands-on training with those who are already experienced in the industry. With the rules and regulations surrounding trucking, from logging time to rest breaks and even the actual driving itself, it can be easier to partner with a program for training purposes.

Learning more about the CDL process can help you plan for your new career as a commercial truck driver and makes it easier to work your way through the process and receive your official CDL.

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