CDL License

How to get your Commercial Drivers License

 

If you want to know how to get your Class A CDL license then this page is for you! What type of commercial drivers license do you need? 

CDL License or (Commercial Drivers License)

The term “CDL” stands for Commercial Driver’s License. In order to drive a commercial motor vehicle in the United States, the driver must hold a valid Commercial Driver’s License, or “CDL”. Class A and Class B are the two main types of commercial driver’s licenses. In the section below we will explain the differences between the two types.

What is a Class A CDL?

A Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) shows carriers and employers that you are a certified and competent licensed Professional Truck Driver. Operating certain commercial motor vehicles requires specialized skills and knowledge. With a Class A CDL and the proper endorsements, you may drive the following types of vehicles:
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Tanker vehicles
  • Flatbeds

What is a Class B CDL?

A Class B License is needed to operate any single vehicle that isn’t hitched to a trailer. Class B CDL holders take up positions driving smaller vehicles as bus drivers, furniture delivery, cement production, and auto-transport driving.  Vehicles requiring a Class B drivers license may include:
  • Buses
  • Dump Trucks
  • Tow Trucks
  • Delivery Trucks
  • Garbage Trucks

What type of Commercial Drivers License do I need?

While the type of license you’re looking for depends on what kind of work you’re getting into, Roadmaster courses are geared towards getting your Class A CDL, which is required for over-the-road (OTR) Professional Truck Drivers. Since April of 1992, all drivers have been required to have a CDL in order to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle. Tractor-trailers require advanced skills and knowledge above and beyond those required to drive a car or other lightweight vehicle.
  • Vehicles requiring a Class A license are primarily tractor-trailers driving long distances. This license offers the most job opportunities and earning potential. 
  • Vehicles requiring a Class B license may include buses, dump trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks. These types of driving jobs typically pay less than Class A tractor-trailer driving jobs hauling freight across state lines.
CDL License training

Why do I need a Class A License?

By requiring a Class A CDL, the FMCSA and DOT ensure that unsafe drivers are not behind the wheels of commercial vehicles. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act’s goal is to improve highway safety by ensuring that drivers of large trucks and buses are qualified to operate those vehicles and to remove unsafe and unqualified drivers from the highways. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed and issued standards for testing and licensing commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Among other things, the standards require states to issue a Class A CDL to a commercial motor vehicle driver only after the driver passes knowledge and skills tests administered by the state related to the type of vehicle to be operated. Drivers need a Class A commercial driver’s license if they drive interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce.

How to get your Class a drivers License

How do I get my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

States are able to issue you a CDL driver’s license only after a successful written and driving test has been completed at a state or approved testing facility. In order to get a Class A CDL, you need to have a minimum of 180 hours of combined classroom and behind-the-wheel training driving a truck.

 

Truck Driving Schools, like Roadmaster, teach you everything you need to know to get your commercial driver’s license in 4 weeks. Once you have your Class A driver’s license, you are ready to head to your new employer for additional training.
It’s important to train for your CDL exam for two reasons:
  • The test itself can be extremely difficult to pass without the proper training.
  • Many carriers won’t hire a candidate without at least 180 hours of proper training, even if you’ve passed the CDL exam.

Tips for getting and maintaining your Class A CDL

  • Stay healthy: Driving long distances requires focus and good health. The trucking lifestyle can be demanding, and it’s important that you’re in shape enough to meet the responsibilities of the role. Physical examinations are mandatory for most CDL seekers.
  • Don’t do drugs: Obtaining a CDL requires the successful completion of a five-stage drug test at the school level. Random drug tests are possible for all drivers so long as they hold their CDL. Many carriers are transitioning to hair follicle testing that looks back up to 90 days for drug usage. Testing positive for drug usage at any point will result in a driver losing their CDL and being unable to work in the industry.
  • Keep a clean driving record: CDL training schools and trucking carriers look for drivers who have proven to be skilled and safe on the road. Speeding tickets, DUIs, and other traffic violations are important factors when getting a CDL but don’t automatically mean you’re disqualified.
  • Be of age: Drivers must be at least 18 years of age to be employed intrastate (within your own state) and at least 21 to drive interstate (across state lines).
  • Sign up for training at an approved training school: Best in industry schools like Roadmaster are a great way to get your foot in the door. Virtually all carriers recognize the value of a Roadmaster-trained driver.

Commercial Drivers License Requirements

  • Identification – You will be asked to provide proof that you are either U.S. citizen or else have a lawful presence. Your identification must have your full name on it (including first, middle, and last) and must state your age. Drivers ages 18-20 are only permitted to drive intrastate (within the same state) while drivers 21 and older are permitted to drive interstate (between states).
  • Proof of State Residency – In order to get your Class A CDL, you’ll need to show proof of where you live. The CDL exam is a state-level exam and licenses are also issued through the state.
  • Evidence of an SSN – You will be asked to provide proof of a Social Security number by presenting official documents stating it. All SSN documents must be originals and copies will not be accepted.
  • Passed CDL Exam – This is the last stage before earning your CDL exam! It’s very important that you come prepared to answer trucking questions and demonstrate driving skills in a truck on the road.
Requirements change and update over time, so for the most up-to-date information check with your state DMV or DOT, or chat with a Roadmaster representative.

How to pass your cdl license exam

Taking the CDL Exam

So let’s fast forward about 4 weeks or so from now. You’ve already made the decision to invest in your own future by becoming a professional truck driver. You’ve chosen a quality CDL training school and have put in the work necessary to earn your Class A CDL license. Now, only one thing that stands in your way is the CDL exam.

If you’ve followed these steps, chosen the right driver training program, and paid attention to your trainers, the CDL exam shouldn’t be scary. It’s your moment to shine. You should be looking forward to it because it could be the turning point where you accomplish your goal and achieve a whole new life and career in the exciting, in-demand Professional Trucking Industry!

How to Pass Your CDL Exam

The CDL test is the first hurdle for those looking into a career as a CDL truck driver. After you’ve passed your CDL test you can begin your truck driving career. What is the CDL test? Just like you’d test for your state driver’s license, CDL truck drivers need to prove that they can drive a truck safely on the highways. That’s where the CDL test comes in!
 
The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is proof that you are a knowledgeable driver. In order to receive a CDL, you’ll need to answer a series of trucking questions and prove to a tester that you can drive a semi-truck. The CDL written test is made up of about 50 questions covering topics like
  • Accident procedures
  • Map reading
  • Hooking and unhooking trailers
  • Night driving
  • Braking
  • Anticipating hazards
  • Railroad crossing
  • Skid control and recovery, among others
The second portion of the CDL test is driving a semi while a tester observes you. You’ll have to demonstrate that you can do things like back up the truck and merge into traffic in addition to other driving techniques. That’s a lot to prepare for! However, there’s a lot to look forward to once you pass the CDL test!
CDL Training School Classroom

Getting Ready For The CDL Test

At Roadmaster, we do our absolute best to make sure our graduates are fully prepared to take the CDL test upon their graduation from training at Roadmaster. If a student is having a difficult time getting the hang of a specific part of the CDL training course, our instructors will work with them to teach what is needed in order to overcome the problem area, even providing extra training if needed. That way, when a student finally takes the CDL exam, the student can take their exam with a feeling of confidence.

What if I fail? Re-Training/Taking the CDL Exam

If a student puts in the hard work, learning as much as possible, and still falls short of passing the CDL test? Now what?
First of all: Don’t panic! It won’t be the first time someone has failed, and most likely won’t be the last! For those who don’t pass the CDL exam on the first try, don’t worry, Roadmaster won’t leave you hanging. Roadmaster will work with students going over the problem areas, and when the instructors are confident that the student has improved enough, they will suggest to re-take the test, this time even better prepared with extra training under their belt and likely much less nervous since they’ve taken the exam before and know what to expect.

Passing The CDL Test

When a student passes the CDL test, they’ll be ready to begin their career as a professional truck driver. In many cases, that will mean getting even more advanced training with the company carrier they decide to sign with. While we obviously prefer all students to pass the CDL Exam on their first try, there’s no shame in having to take it again. When a student achieves their Class A CDL license, the number of attempts doesn’t go on a permanent record. As long as the student shows up every day ready to work hard, pays close attention to the instructors, Roadmaster will do it’s very best to help its students pass their CDL test!