CDL License or Commercial Drivers License
If you want to get involved in the ever-growing trucking industry, you’ll need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to get started as a driver. So, what’s a CDL license? Here’s what it is and how to get one before you embark on a career in the truck driving industry.
What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?
A commercial driver’s license is a type of license you need to legally operate commercial motor vehicles in the US. It’s different from a regular non-commercial driver’s license that allows you to drive a passenger vehicle. So even if you have a regular driver’s license already, you can’t operate a large commercial truck until you complete a special course and pass an exam to get a CDL. At that point, you’ll be on your way to becoming a truck driver.
What Does a Commercial Driver’s License Allow You To Do?
Going through the process of getting a CDL means you can safely operate a commercial vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer, bus, or dump truck. This is important, since driving a truck that weighs over 50,000 pounds requires more skill and caution than driving a 5,000-pound passenger car.
So, what does a CDL mean when it comes to trying to get a job in trucking? When you successfully get a commercial driver’s license, you’re showing that you know how to safely drive a large commercial vehicle, which can help you get a job in this industry. Before you start the process of getting a CDL, you should note that there are different CDL types, with each one allowing you to legally drive different commercial vehicles for work as a truck driver.
What Types of CDL Licenses Are Available?
There are three types of CDL licenses you can study for. The type of CDL you get determines the type and weight of the vehicle you can safely drive, which will have an effect on the types of truck driving jobs you can get.
First, there’s Class A, which is the most popular option because it gives you the ability to drive any truck with two or more axles. This means you can drive the heaviest trucks available, including those that have a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds and a towed vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds. As a result, you can drive a wide variety of commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tankers, flatbeds, and livestock carriers. More importantly, the interstate Class A CDL allows you to drive across state lines, which is an ability you’ll need if you want access to the highest-paying truck driving jobs.
A Class B CDL lets you drive any non-articulating commercial vehicle that weighs 26,000 pounds or more, as well as towed vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds. This means you can drive dump trucks, straight trucks, and box trucks, including delivery trucks. You can also use a Class B CDL to drive a large passenger bus within your state, such as a city, school, or tourist bus.
The third type of CDL is a Class C license. This lets you safely drive a vehicle that weighs less than 26,000 pounds and can transport 16 or more people or will be transporting hazardous materials. So if you want to drive a tank truck, bus, HazMat vehicle, or triple trailer within your state, you need a Class C CDL. You’ll also need to get an endorsement—such as Passenger (P) or Hazardous Materials (HME)—depending on what you’ll be transporting in the vehicle.
Which Type of CDL Should You Get?
As you can see from the differences between the main CDL types, the Class A license allows you to drive the widest variety of commercial vehicles across state lines—including the heaviest trailers. For this reason, unless you plan to only drive a bus or small truck intrastate, it’s best to get a Class A CDL to start your trucking career. This will give you the biggest range of truck driving jobs to choose from, as employers will see that you have the skills to drive just about any commercial vehicle across state lines, including tractor-trailers.
Not only will a Class A CDL give you access to the most jobs, but it will also make you eligible for the highest paying positions. After all, driving a tractor-trailer long-distance across state lines typically pays more than driving a bus, dump truck, box truck, garbage truck, etc. Depending on your state, you can usually start out with a salary of about $62,992* when you get a job requiring a Class A CDL, plus benefits that include health insurance, 401k, tuition reimbursement, and more.
If the benefits of getting a CDL license sound good to you, it’s time to begin training for one so you can start your truck driving career soon. When you come to Roadmaster Driver’s School for CDL training, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to feel confident as you take your CDL exam. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your truck driving career!