If you’re in the right age, chances are you’ve already obtained your driving license. Though a license is but a small card, it is one of the many privileges we enjoy. A commercial driving license on the other hand, is an additional permit wherein you plan to make driving into a professional career.
This is usually associated with passenger or school bus driving, trailer or truck driving, and hauling of materials. If you’re worried about passing the test, you can assess your knowledge by trying online references for practice tests. In doing so, you can decide whether you need to enter training school or just self-study.
How do I go about on applying for a CDL?
Here are the steps you can expect when getting a commercial driver’s license.
1. Check state requirements
There are minimum requirements set forth by each state, these include age requirement, a valid driving license (non-commercial), and proof of citizenship or residency to name a few. These requirements may vary depending on where you’re located, so be sure to check this step first and foremost.
2. Download manual for your State’s CDL test
Once you’ve secured requirements set by the state, you can download the manual from the agency. This manual basically covers what you need to review, or be familiar with for the exam. This has sections that helps you prepare on the written exam part of the test.
3. Choose your track
After you’ve read the manual you now understand the difference between the license classes (Class A CDL, Class B CDL, and Class C CDL). Decide which one you’ll be applying for, depending on the type of vehicle you plan to operate and focus on, additional tests may be required. For example, when planning to enter into a company transporting hazardous materials, you may also need an additional field of study.
When you have reviewed the manual, test your knowledge by answering questionnaires available online. There are a lot of ways to acquire review materials, if you are doing it yourself, then make the manual your framework of study by going through each section. In doing so you are able to understand which areas of the manual you excel at, and which parts needs more attention.
If, however, you opt for a training school program, just make sure it is accredited by the government. A training school allows for easy processing and access to materials. This is why most pay for their services than doing all the footwork.
5. Apply and pass your Learner’s Permit
After obtaining your commercial driver’s license learner’s permit (CLP), the process becomes easier. The first three sections of your manual basically covers what you need to study for the learner’s permit. You can try general knowledge practice tests through this portal. General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles are these three branches, as long as you’ve got these three pinned down, then one can easily assume the test is already a pass.
Take note that the CLP is valid only for a certain period of time. Take advantage of this window to get all the hands on practice you need for the actual CDL test. If you have a friend or relative that is over 21 years old and has a valid CDL, then you may ask him/her to accompany you and provide additional training.
6. Pass your Commercial Driving License Exam
With your CLP, you can also take additional endorsements but consider the limitations. The extent of the endorsements can only be realized once you receive your actual commercial driving license.
This part of the process is also what they call the skill and road testing. It gauges your knowledge on real-time application of the principles. The driving part includes the pre-tip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving exam. Your performance on this part of the examination will sum up how you handle practical situations.
Remember that as a commercial driver, you get exposure to a lot of elements. These include possible vehicle breakdown, road accidents, and other unforeseen events on long drives. A tip would be to become as familiar as the vehicle as you possibly can, so you gain confidence on driving it and not be too nervous during the exam.
This is what you need to get ready with to be able to have your commercial driving license. It requires training, budget, and of course a lot of studying. But reaping of all the investments become rewarding when a job is landed.
There’s a reason why one has to exert so much to obtain one. It is because it is not only about the career of trucking, but also related to the safety of the smaller vehicles you’ll be sharing the road with. To make things smoother, just remember to directly check information from your state website, so there’s less confusion with the steps and the requirements.