General CDL Information

The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is the type of driver’s license that is issued in the US, allowing a person to operate any vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in excess of 26,001 pounds. The license also gives you the permission to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) – a vehicle that is used in carrying at least 16 people on public roads. Some examples of these are tractor trailers, tow trucks, or buses.

Benefits of getting Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Commercial Driver’s License gives someone the opportunity to become a truck driver, which will provide a hefty salary in an industry that is consistently desperate for drivers. A rookie truck driver fresh out of driving school can expect to enter the industry earning approximately $40,000-45,000 annually with benefits including health, dental, and a chance to begin saving for retirement. With safe driving, this salary could easily exceed $100,000 annually in a couple of years. The salary and benefits both depend heavily on the type of trucking job a driver has and the company he works for. CDL certification can also be used in other areas apart from long distance transportation. A CDL driver can also work for a construction company or drive a school bus. A commercial driver’s license offers someone an opportunity to find wonderful jobs that keep our country moving and pay great.

How to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

There are strict requirements for getting the CDL certification, and these requirements are subject to changes implemented by the United States Department of Transportation. These requirements include:


  1. A driver must be at least 18 years of age.


  1. A driver must have held a valid driver’s license, chauffeur’s license, or public passenger chauffeur’s license for at least one year.


  1. A student will be required to pass three tests which comprise the CDL exam: the combination knowledge test, air brake knowledge test and the general knowledge test.


  1. A prospective driver must also obtain a commercial driver’s license learner’s permit prior to taking the exam.


  1. Aside from the written portions, a prospective driver will be required to also pass a driving exam. That test is going to include pre-trip inspection, a skills test, and an over-the-road (OTR) test. If a driver is successful in passing his written tests and performs adequately on the driving test, the new driver will be issued the CDL certificate, which makes you to legally drive CMV on public roads.

More is required from you if you are holding a CDL certificate. Professional drivers are held to much higher standards than other drivers as far as safety goes. For instance, a person is not permitted to operate a commercial vehicle if he has a detectable or measurable amount of alcohol in his blood. If a driver’s blood-alcohol content is more than 0.04%, he will be arrested, and his license may even be suspended for several months. Many states may have different requirements concerning what is allowed as the minimum blood-alcohol level of any truck driver, so it is best to reference the regulations of each state in which you will be driving.

Obtaining a commercial driver’s license is an amazing opportunity for hard-working Americans who are searching for reliable employment with a high salary.

Types of CDL Licenses

If a driver wants to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in the US, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that he have any of the different types of CDL licenses. The license is not an easy thing to get, because a driver is required to go through training and pass certain knowledge and skills tests organized by the state. There is usually a particular license available for each class of vehicle. Therefore, it is always important to have permission to drive the one for which you are found driving.

Many people do not know the differences between the different types of CDL licenses.


  1. Class A CDL - This is the type of CDL license that is needed to drive a vehicle of the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of more than 10,000 pounds. The license is usually required if a driver wants to drive a coach, school bus, or RV. If a driver needs a good paying job where he would not have to be on the job 24 hours per day, he needs this license. This is also a popular license for married truck drivers who are not looking to spend a lot of time away from their families. To get employment as a school bus driver, a driver needs to pass a test in a passenger vehicle fully equipped with different school bus features (signs, lights, etc.).


  1. Class B CDL- This is the type of CDL licenses that is needed for vehicles having a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating in excess of 26,001 pounds. A driver needs this license if he wants a job that requires him to drive trucks such as delivery vans (e.g. UPS, Fedex, DHL and Peapod), dump trucks (e.g. gravel, sand, aggregates, mulch and asphalt), cement mixers, garbage/recycling trucks, tow trucks, buses (e.g. chartered, school, tour, Greyhound), small tank trucks (e.g. septic service, airport refueler, milk transport and industrial chemicals), and trucks for food service (e.g. construction site catering and ice cream). With the license, a driver can also operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) that pulls a separate trailer, inasmuch as the combined weight is not more than 26,001 pounds.


  1. Class C CDL- This is the type of CDL license that is needed for driving trailers that are used in carrying dangerous materials. A driver also needs the license for driving big passenger vehicles. In essence, the license is for the vehicles which cannot be classified into the ones for which Class A CDL and Class B CDL are used. If a driver wants a career in the construction industry where different chemicals are carried to the construction site, this is the type of CDL license that he needs to have.

Although the requirements for the issuance of CDL licenses are managed at the federal level, it is the responsibility of the transport divisions of each state to set the minimum requirements that every driver must meet. Therefore, it is necessary to check the ones that apply in the state in which you are interested in working. It is also a necessity to understand the requirements of some other states, especially if you would need to drive to such places from time to time.

CDL Driving Schools

It is the responsibility of CDL driving schools to teach every potential truck driver the important information about transportation operation and safety that will keep the driver safe on the road. In CDL driving school, the driver will gain relevant knowledge and learn important skills which are necessary to become a professional CDL driver. These schools have been utilized for many years and have trained millions of students how to be safely involved in the transportation industry. The students go on to help take different goods, worth billions of dollars, from one destination to another all across North America.

Anyone with the desire to be successful in the transportation industry is required to enroll in one of these trucking education courses. This is detrimental because good training equates to a more talented driver. If a driver is fortunate enough to have good CDL training, he will always have different employers attempting to hire him. Truck drivers make excellent money, and a talented driver will never have to worry about unemployment. Most employers understand the importance of having talented drivers and are always prepared to look for students from the best CDL driving schools that offer these important courses:


  • Newer equipment courses


  • PTDI certified courses

Apart from the benefits of from those courses, it is also a legal requirement that anybody interested in driving vehicles with a gross weight over 26,001 pounds or 11,739 kilograms should have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). These vehicles include tow trucks, road trailers, trucks, and minibuses. Due to the potential risks of public safety, there are stringent requirements for passing the CDL tests. For a driver to ensure he passes this rigorous exam, it is recommended that he attend the most reputable trucking school possible.

There are two types of CDL driving schools:


  1. Government funded driving schools- Certain CDL driving schools that are funded by the government. In most cases, government funded driving schools are located in vocational schools, community colleges, or state colleges. The government funded driving schools tend to have programs that last much longer than the private schools. Because truck drivers are an integral part of our nation’s financial system, government funded driving schools are generally also very affordable.


  1. Privately funded driving schools- Private CDL driving schools are owned by business enterprises such as transportation companies. These are excellent schools, but they have the intention of making profits. In order to warrant a higher fee, privately funded driving schools make an effort to get a good reputation through higher training standards. The schools know that if they fail in that area, they will not be able to recruit new students, which will lead to them going out of business. As a general rule, private CDL driving schools are better than the government funded schools because they use many different training methods with their students. Private trucking schools also tend to sponsor different studies that involve how to make drivers succeed on the road. With time, the schools adapt their courses around the results gathered in these studies.



CDL driving schools vary according to instructors, teaching methods, and price. While price may be a factor, it is important to choose a good driving school to ensure that the driver know the rules of the road, how to operate the truck, the mechanics of the vehicle, how to inspect the vehicle, and how to pass a written exam that will test the prospective driver’s knowledge in many areas. As the driver goes through the classroom sessions, he or she will also be subjected to different road skills test where the driver will be scored on braking ability, the ability to smoothly back up, and general skills behind the wheel.