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Class A CDL Requirements for Becoming a Truck Driver

Every potential truck driver, young or old, must be able to meet the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical fitness requirements (e.g., passing the physical exam) and be healthy enough and physically able to complete their job safely and sufficiently.

You can learn more about the minimum medical requirements on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.

Physical health and ability per applicable regulations and being at least 21 are the main requirements when it comes to age. Otherwise, age itself doesn’t factor in employment whatsoever, so it shouldn’t factor into your decision to pursue a successful career in trucking, either.

Even better is that one of the reasons so many people are deciding to become professional truck drivers is that the industry offers many distinct advantages for drivers in pretty much every age range. Whether you are re-entering the workforce after a break or looking to transition out of a different industry.

Let’s take a look at why training to become a professional truck driver is a great career move at any age:

What is the right age to become a commercial truck driver?

While there is a minimum age requirement for becoming an interstate truck driver — in most cases, to be eligible for interstate driving employment, you need to be at least 21 years old — one of the great things about professional truck driving is that there is no maximum age cutoff point.

No federal or government regulations are limiting the maximum age of commercial drivers. If you’re older, as long as you can meet the CDL requirements, pass the medical examiner’s test and meet the basic physical fitness requirements, you shouldn’t have any problems becoming a commercial driver. A background check and a good driving record are required as well for most positions. A skills test can help you decide if trucking is right for you.

Thousands of men and women enter the trucking industry at an older age. The average age of American CDL drivers is currently around 49 years old, and it is not uncommon at all for people in their 50s and 60s to get their CDL and start driving.

So, what age-related restrictions does trucking have?

Why professional truck driving is a good choice for older men and women

Commercial truck drivers get to travel all around the country and cross quite a few state lines. That means there is a good possibility that you will drive through a city or area near an old friend or family member you haven’t seen in some time.

More generally, no two days are ever really the same. Commercial drivers travel to new places every day. That means that many truckers get to see places and landmarks they always have wanted to see but maybe never had the time or the money to.

On top of the pay, don’t forget about all the truck driver benefits that are generally considered pretty standard in the industry, benefits like a 401(k), medical insurance, life insurance, and much more.

With the average pay and benefits in mind, getting the training needed for a new career in truck driving might be a great way to supplement some of that retirement, pension, or social security income that you already may be receiving. Or, if you haven’t started saving up for your retirement yet, getting the training needed to get rolling in truck driving might offer an excellent chance to get started.

Truck drivers earn these types of benefits and pay, mind you, while also getting to enjoy the freedom and new experiences the open road has to offer.

How young people can use truck driving to kick-start their careers

For young people considering obtaining training for a career in professional truck driving, the same average pay and common benefits discussed above apply.

An added benefit for younger CDL holders is that the trucking industry provides an opportunity to start your professional working life in an adventurous way after training for your Class A CDL. Your twenties are an exciting time, and, at least for many people in this age range, there’s little or nothing holding you back. The world is yours to explore, and trucking can offer you the freedom to do it.

Plus, a career in truck driving offers solid job security because truck driver jobs can’t be outsourced.

Add that the trucking industry needs qualified drivers, there’s a major truck driver shortage right now — and it’s easy to see why training for a career in trucking is the perfect place to jumpstart a successful, secure career anytime in your professional life.

More than just the security you can take advantage of while in trucking, though, think of the big picture: By training to become a professional truck driver, you will learn a skill set that you possibly could fall back on if, later on, you decide to change your career. Maybe down the road, you end up in another industry and find yourself either unhappy or out of work. It happens. But having professional truck driving as an option can give you peace of mind that’s extremely valuable as you navigate the job market throughout the rest of your professional life.

Passing the CDL test and getting a Class A license 

The point of everything we’ve just discussed is to say that it’s neither too late nor too early (provided you’re 21 or over) for you to train for a new career that can help you achieve financial success, broaden your life experience, and have an adventure. Whichever end of the age spectrum you find yourself on, tucking could be just the opportunity you need to create a better life for yourself.

So feel free to stop wondering, “Am I too old to become a truck driver?” or, “Am I too young to drive a truck professionally?” because beyond the age of 21, however old you happen to be is the right age to look at pursuing the truck-driving lifestyle!

To become a professional truck driver, the main thing you’ll need to do is get your interstate Class A CDL license, which is the Commercial Driver’s License required to operate Class A commercial motor vehicles (“big rigs”). This will allow you to haul both interstate and intrastate loads.

To get the license, you’ll need to pass the CDL skills test, which can be difficult without the proper training. Plus, even if you somehow pass the CDL skills test without training, most carriers won’t hire you without some formal training experience, like the kind you get from attending a quality, credible CDL training school. Put simply: It’s pretty important to get CDL training from a reputable school.

To learn more about all the CDL requirements, visit the Roadmaster FAQ page.

Roadmaster Drivers School provides Class A CDL training that takes about a month with qualified instructors to quickly get you trained to get on the road. In addition to the CDL training itself, Roadmaster also offers career services to help you find the job opportunity that’s right for you with one of the nation’s top carriers after graduation. Many Roadmaster students even get pre-hired before graduation and have their future jobs lined up while still in the first couple weeks of training!

What To Do While You Wait

When you’re excited about starting a career but limited in your potential due to age restrictions, it’s tough. Three years seems like a lifetime away! But with great truck drivers comes great responsibility. Here’s what you can do in the meantime.

Stay Healthy

Driving long trips requires good health. Make sure you’re in good shape to meet the demands of the trucker lifestyle! (Physical examinations are mandatory for most CDL seekers, by the way.) Eat well and train hard!

Don’t Do Drugs

This is obvious! Getting a CDL requires the successful completion of a five-stage drug test, and random drug tests are possible for all drivers with a CDL. (Many carriers use hair follicle tests that check for drug use in the previous 90 days.) Test positive and you’ll lose your CDL. It’s that simple.

Considering that in the United States it’s currently illegal to use illicit substances and alcohol under the age of 21, this is a huge no-no from a commercial truck driving perspective.

Keep a Clean Record

One of the biggest things that you need to avoid when starting your career as a truck driver, especially when under the age of 21, is keeping a clean driving record. At-fault accidents, DUI charges, and other dangerous driving scenarios can negatively affect both your potential job outlook and your ability to even get hired by companies. So stay out of trouble!

Avoid Speeding Tickets

Other things to watch out for are speeding tickets. Most drivers have disobeyed the posted speed limits within their state at least once. As a hopeful, soon-to-be truck driver, you will want to avoid this at all costs! Not only can speeding tickets disqualify you from the license and potential job opportunities, but the danger also posed to both yourself and other drivers on the road is elevated when exceeding state-mandated speed guidance. (But you know that already!) Car accidents can be life-altering — it’s potentially even worse for drivers operating heavy vehicles like trucking rigs and large delivery trucks.

Stay Local

Get a local driving job and a Class B CDL license to gain experience. A Class B CDL is a truck with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 pounds including a towed capacity not exceeding 10,000 pounds. A popular way to make the most out of a Class B CDL is with industry-purposed vehicles like some larger firetrucks, dump trucks, and bucket trucks.

Still Want to Pursue Your Class A CDL at 18?

Driving for local logistics companies or regional companies within your state’s border is probably the best option as it’ll give you more real-world experience driving a truck and trailer with a GVWR  of 26,001 pounds and a trailer weighing over 10,000 pounds.

Additionally, if you’re in the military, the Military Skills Test Waiver Program, available in every state, lets service personnel with a clean driving record of at least two years waive the need for a CDL driving test (skills test). Keep in mind that you must have held a military job within the last 12 months when applying for the waiver.

Ready to find out more information about trucking school? Get started today!

Truck Driver Health Qualifications

The FMCSA’s regulations2 state that a truck driver is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle (the truck of CDL drivers) if the driver:

  • Has met medical examination requirement
  • Has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate
  • Doesn’t have an impairment of hand or finger that interferes with the ability to hold the wheel and drive the truck
  • Doesn’t have an impairment of arm, foot, or leg which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle
  • Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes requiring insulin for control
  • Doesn’t have any breathing problems (or respiratory dysfunction) that could be a problem while driving
  • Has no current clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure that could interfere with trucking responsibilities
  • Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular, or vascular disease which interferes with his/her ability to control and operate a commercial motor vehicle safely
  • Doesn’t have a diagnosis or medical history of epilepsy or any other condition that could cause a driver to lose consciousness while driving
  • Has no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism
  • Has no current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency, thrombosis, or any other cardiovascular disease of a variety known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse, or congestive cardiac failure (This one looks complicated, but it’s basically excluding drivers with heart conditions that could overtake them while driving or performing trucking duties. Check with your doctor or physician for more information.)
  • Has no mental, nervous, organic, or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with his/her ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely
  • Can see well enough at a distance without corrective lenses and can tell the difference in light colors
  • Meets hearing standards and can pass a hearing test
  • Does not use narcotics, amphetamines, or any other illegal drugs. Prescribed drugs can’t interfere with driving, either

All of this medical information might seem like a headache, but these qualifications make for a safer highway for all drivers. The best way to ensure you currently meet all CDL truck driver medical requirements is to speak with a representative from your truck driving school.


2§391.41: Physical qualifications for drivers:

What kind of health conditions could potentially keep you from getting a CDL license?

Truck drivers have the major responsibility of driving massive machinery across the country, and they should keep up their health for best performance. Just like our trucks, if we don’t keep up with maintenance we’re more likely to break down. That’s very dangerous for everyone on the road, especially when we’re talking about a large tractor and trailer.

The FMCSA’s qualifications for truck drivers begins:

“The truck driver must be medically qualified to not only drive the vehicle safely but also to do pre and post-trip safety inspections, secure the load, and make sure it has not shifted.”1

While actually driving the truck takes up most of a CDL truck driver’s time, things like unloading and making inspections are just as important. The driver must be physically fit enough and in a healthy enough condition to perform their duties.

The first of the FMCSA’s disqualifying conditions are “Hearing Loss, Vision Loss, Epilepsy and Insulin Use. Drivers who require a Diabetes or Vision exemption to safely drive a CMV in addition to those pre-printed on the certification form are disqualified until they receive such an exemption.”1

Basically the regulations are in place to make sure that each driver doesn’t have a condition that could potentially put them or other drivers at harm. The regulations also make sure that truck drivers can provide proof of their health condition (usually through a medical certificate).

What Does a DOT Physical Consist of?

In this article, we’ll go over what the Department of Transportation or (DOT) physical covers, what to bring, and where to learn more about the process.

Why Are Physicals Required for Truck Drivers?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the lead government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) and CMV drivers. The FMCSA’s mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and busses. One way the FMCSA upholds this mission is by requiring commercial drivers possessing a Commercial Driver’s License to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner’s Certification, more commonly known as a DOT physical. The DOT physical completed by a Certified Medical Examiner ensures that the CDL holder meets DOT physical qualifications for a driver. If you are unable to obtain a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate, trucking carriers cannot allow you to perform safety-sensitive functions which include driving for them.

What To Bring to the DOT Physical

There are specific requirements for the DOT physical that involve the health of the truck driver. You should fill out the health history questionnaire truthfully and accurately. Doing this prior to your appointment saves time. Bring a list of all medications you take, if applicable. This comprises the names of the medication, dosages, dosage regimen, and the names and addresses of your physicians.

There are certain situations where more items or documents may need to come with you to the examination. Examples include:

  • Drivers with heart conditions. Bring as much documentation as you have. At a minimum, they require a cardiologist’s letter. This should include a “safe to work” recommendation, health history, and a list of medications.
  • Drivers with diabetes. Bring the most recent lab results showing blood sugar logs and Hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC).
  • Drivers with hearing or vision problems. When applicable, bring hearing aids, contact lenses, or eyeglasses.

These are the most common, yet there is a variety of circumstances where other items or documents may be required. These are:

  • Drivers with high blood pressure
  • Drivers who have nighttime sleep disturbance (sleep apnea) and use a CPAP machine including a 30-day CPAP compliance report
  • Drivers who take blood thinners like Coumadin

The Physical

The physical itself includes specific components. These include vision, hearing, blood pressure, blood rate, urinalysis, and a physical exam.

 Vision Test

Whether the vision has correction, all drivers must have 20/40 vision at a minimum. The other requirement is 70″ peripheral in the horizontal meridian, at a minimum. This measurement is in both the right and left eyes.

Hearing Test

The FMCSA requires:

The tests for hearing are the forced whisper test or an audiometric test. For the whispered voice test, the driver should be 5 feet from the examiner with the ear being tested turned toward the examiner. The other ear is covered. Using the breath which remains after a forced expiration, the examiner whispers words or random numbers such as 66,18.23. The examiner should not use only sibilants (s-sounding test materials). If the individual fails the whisper test, the examiner should administer the audiometric test.

Pulse Rate and Blood Pressure

This test is self-explanatory. The examiner uses it to detect an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure.


The urine test provides results for medical issues of the kidneys or things like diabetes. It is not a drug screening.

Medical Requirements for getting a CDL License

The Physical Exam

The physical exam for the DOT uses a Certified Medical Examiner and has two dozen components. After the exam, the doctor determines if a driver is fit enough to be a safe professional truck driver.

The Physical Exam covers:

General Appearance

This simple check ensures you look healthy and alert.


The spine and other musculoskeletal areas get checked for debilitating issues. These include tender areas, poor range of motion or limited motion, prior surgeries, and anything else relevant.


This differs from what you usually get at a hearing test. Instead, the doctor looks for specific issues such as a perforated eardrum or tympanic membrane. 


This checkup is more like the extras an eye doctor checks for during an eye exam. It’s not a vision test. Instead, this includes looking for macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and more.


The neurological part of the exam covers a wide range of conditions. These include asymmetric deep tendon reflexes, impaired equilibrium, and speech pattern or coordination ataxia.

Throat and Mouth

This part of the exam looks for issues with the throat and mouth. This includes impairment with swallowing or breathing.


This exam looks for impaired extremities or limbs.

Viscera and Abdomen

The examiner looks for problems with muscle weakness, viscera (the internal organs), and things like an enlarged liver.


Issues looked for in the heart include a pacemaker, extra or abnormal sounds, a heart murmur, etc.


This is a search for a hernia or hernias.


This is the same thing as your circulatory system and the doctor will look for things like varicose veins, carotid, or an abnormal pulse – for example.

Chest and Lungs

The doctor ensures there are no issues with areas like your respiratory function. He also looks for abnormal breathing and cyanosis, which is low oxygen or poor circulation.

DOT Paperwork

Along with your medical information, they require specific forms for the DOT. These include:

Medical Examination Report (MER) Form, MCSA-5875

This form has important information, including your exam, and your health history. Included in the MER form is your driver’s information, too. This form gets turned in after the exam’s completion.

Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876

This is the form you get after you pass the DOT physical exam.

Insulin-treated Diabetes Mellitus Assessment, MCSA-5870

This form only applies to those with diabetes treated with insulin. If you fall into this category, your doctor must complete it 45 days before your DOT physical.

Want To Drive a Truck Professionally?

Once you have your Class A CDL license you are ready to apply for entry-level truck driver jobs. Attending a truck driving school like Roadmaster ensures a career services associate helps you exponentially. This includes applying for jobs and starting your new career.

Placement Associates help you find companies best for your situation – and this is during the first few days of school. Your job applications get reviewed and Placement Associates help you during the submission process to potential employers.

We offer in-house financing to those who qualify to help cover the cost of tuition. And tuition reimbursement from an employing carrier could cover up to 100 percent of the cost of school!

Ready for a rewarding, essential career? Contact Roadmaster by filling out the application form or calling us at 1-800-831-1300.