Truck Driving CDL License

Anyone interested in a trucking career will need to have their Commercial Driver's license, also known as the CDL license. This license allows the driver to drive large trucks such as semis, haulers, and certain types of vans legally on designated roadways. Truck driver training programs prepare students to take the CDL exam and also provide hands-on training so the student can get the skills they need to be successful throughout their trucking careers. If you are considering enrolling in a truck driver training program, take some time to learn about the basic CDL license requirements and find out what you need to do to get a truck drivers license.

CDL License Requirements

You are not required to complete a formal training program to get your CDL license, but most people do go to a professional training school so that they can prepare for a successful career in this field. There are both national and state requirements for getting a truck driver's license, so you need to check with your state's department of motor vehicles to find out what restrictions and limitations a Commercial Driver's license has.

National licensing requirements include:

  • Passing a written test on highway safety and various parts of the truck
  • Answering at least 80 percent of the questions correctly
  • Successfully completing a hands-on test that involves maneuvering a truck under different conditions

If you are expecting to operate any type of specialized vehicle designed with special equipment or features, you will need to take your test in that same vehicle.

Getting a Truck Drivers License

Most truck drivers get a Class A or Class B CDL license to drive combination vehicles. This means that the truck driver is licensed to drive semis, haulers, and other types of vehicles. Drivers who will be driving trucks carrying hazardous materials or any type of tank vehicle will need an N, H, or X designation on their license.

The two types of licenses are:

Class A - required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicles being towed are in excess of 10,000 pounds. Most drivers with a Class A license are licensed to drive tractor-trailers.

Class B - required to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds or any vehicle towing a vehicle that is not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. These vehicles typically include buses, passenger vans, motorhomes, dump trucks, tow trucks, delivery fans, utility vehicles, cement mixers, and any single truck with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.

You can choose to complete a formal truck driver training program or just study for the CDL exam and take the test on your own. Truck driver schools around the country typically offer both hands-on training and specialized classroom training to better prepare you for the CDL license exam. These training programs are much shorter in length than your average diploma or degree program, and will prepare you for a career as a truck driver in your state. The biggest benefit of completing a training program before getting your license is that you'll acquire advanced skills and experience for your career.