What is a 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.