Commercial Driver’s License: How to Get One

Commercial Driver’s License
Commercial Driver’s License

Though the requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) varies depending on where and which state you are located in, there are basic steps to understand the whole process. For starters, trying to pass available online CDL practice tests is a great way to exercise and familiarize yourself with possible questions and scenarios you should take into consideration, and also to see whether this career really is for you.

How to Secure a CDL

There are generally two ways to be able to secure a CDL, by doing it yourself or through the assistance of a certified training or driving school. Before you decide on which one, here is the general layout of the process for your commercial drivers license.

1. Check your state’s requirements

As mentioned earlier, the first step is to double check whether you fit all the requirements set forth by your state. Some of the standards are minimum age and physical requirements. The career path for such driver’s license requires a healthy body. All manuals are usually available online, so a general review will save you the hassle of encountering future problems. Download available manuals, and assess which type of license you’d be applying for.

2. Obtain the permit for the CDL

Similar with the usual driver’s license, a permit is still the first initial requirement. And like any other exam, a review will be essential whether you’re doing it yourself or under a school.  This written part of the test covers a wide range, and questions arise from General Knowledge, Air brakes, and the typical combination vehicles you will encounter.

3. Get Endorsements

To maximize your current permit, you may opt to add endorsements that will allow you add more flexibility to your license. These endorsements are obtained through tests specific to the skill you want to add. Six endorsements are available, Passenger, School bus, HazMat, HazMat/Tanker, and doubles/triples. Pass your knowledge tests for endorsements to be given on top of your preferred class license.

4. Pass the CDL test

Now that you have obtained permits and endorsements, the last step would be the actual skills test. This is where the actual driving test happens. This is provided by the state or an accredited testing party. It does not only include driving, but also tests on your knowledge of the vehicle, including inspecting said vehicle.

Why should you consider a training school?

Now that you have an overview of the whole process, let’s look at the benefits of taking a program under a commercial driving school. The additional payment for tuition fees may turn you off. But there is a reason why most drivers wanting a career in trucking opt to enroll in one instead of doing it independently.

  1. If you are still juggling with a current job and unable to apply and process papers, a certified training school can do the footwork for you. Chances are, the process will be a little faster and smoother on your part.
  2. Some CDL training schools offer a job placement assistance. As soon as you obtain your license there is higher chances of immediately securing a job. The end goal is easily achieved when you choose a capable school.
  3. Enrolling gives you a wide access of reference materials. When dealing with a CDL, do it yourself applicants usually focus on the actual driving skill test, and take the written tests lightly. With a training school, practice tests are given making obtaining the permit, and other endorsements necessary pretty easy.
  4. It is fairly hard to train yourself in driving a giant vehicle. Practical skills such as coupling and detaching a trailer is not easily learned. These training schools will easily give you the opportunity to hone your driving and equipment skills. Being familiar with these items is not only as preparation for the exam itself, but of course with possible situations you might encounter during your long drives as a professional.

How Much Will I Spend in CDL Training School?

The steps and process are generally the same. The difference is that with a training school, you are paying for the convenience. You also get the assurance of passing all parts of the exam through classes taught by skilled instructors.

There are expenses such as fees in applying for a CDL. From application, medical examinations, and the driving test, the budget for all these processes to commence should be ready. Whether you do it yourself or through a training school, you should prepare to pay these fees.

It can be overwhelming especially if you are just a starting a trucking career. Take advantage of time by doing advance research, whether online or asking from previous test takers, and prepare your finances accordingly. Give equal efforts to the written exam and the actual on the road driving, and you are sure to have that commercial driver’s license and driving big trucks in no time.

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