Getting a Commercial Driving License Can Be the First Step to a New Career
A commercial driving license (CDL) is a driving license every driver is required to have to drive heavy, large or hazardous material vehicles in the U.S. One can't be allowed to drive commercial motor vehicles without a valid CDL. Drivers may sometimes be required to also acquire special endorsements like Hazardous Material, Air Brakes, Passenger Vehicles or Tankers.
One must pass a written test for every type of CDL and endorsement. According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2 million truck driving jobs in the United States in 2021 alone. If anyone is looking for an exciting career that gives you an opportunity to tour the country as they enjoy a good salary, then commercial driving is something to consider.
Getting a Commercial Driving License
Getting a commercial driving license entails several steps. Other than the knowledge and skills requirements, there are residency and medical requirements that one must fulfill. Below are the steps to follow when seeking a CDL:
- The first step is getting a copy of your state's commercial driver’s Licensing Manual. The manual can be found in their physical locations or by downloading it from their websites. Every state has a different process for acquiring a CDL.
- Determining what type of vehicle to obtain the license for.
- There are three categories of CDLs with endorsements for special qualifications such as tank trucks, school buses, and tractor trailers among others.
- Applicants for some CDLs and CDL endorsements must complete entry-level driver training before taking the CDL skills test.
In other words, there are three major steps that everyone must go through before acquiring a commercial driving license. The first step is getting a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), the second one is completing entry-level driver training and the last one is getting a commercial driver’s license.
Resources to Prepare for the Test
It is important to allocate enough time when preparing for the commercial driver’s license test. This is to ensure that one increases their chances of passing the test and obtaining your CDL. There are many CDL practice tests, flashcards, and study guides available online. Going through them a few days or weeks before a test will go a long way in getting one ready. Some of the areas to focus on include:
- General knowledge
- Air brake operations
- Double and triple tractor trailers
- Combination vehicles
- School buses
- Tanker trucks
- Passenger transport
Besides preparing for the test, one must be at least 18 years old, hand in your CDL application form, confirm the identity of your Social Security Number, and complete and pass a vision test.
Jobs Needing a Commercial Driving License
There are several jobs that people may choose to pick up and will require a commercial driving license.
- School Bus Drivers: School bus drivers often pick up children from their homes and return them in the evening. They also drive teachers and students to various school activities within and without the state. All school bus drivers are required to have a valid commercial driver’s license.
- Dump truck Drivers: Dump truck drivers operate trucks used in loading and unloading material. One must earn and maintain clean CDL requirements to drive dump trucks.
- Transit and Intercity Busses: Transit and intercity drivers are required to have a CDL as well as a passenger endorsement to operate such vehicles.
Other jobs that need a commercial driving license include refuse and recyclable collectors, trailer truck drivers, heavy equipment hauling, dispatcher and long-haul cargo truck drivers.