Earning your commercial driving license or CDL requires a great deal of time, energy and experience. But holding a commercial driving license is a privilege that not everyone can enjoy. Driving a bus, semi-truck or other commercial vehicle comes with a new set of obstacles and responsibilities, so it is important that you follow your state guidelines very closely when applying for your CDL. With a CDL, you can operate certain types of vehicles that are off-limits to the general public and can help you to advance your career and invest in your future as a driver.
How to Get Your Commercial Driving License
While the requirements for obtaining your CDL vary from state to state, there are a few general steps that each motorist should take to ensure they will qualify for this special licensing endorsement. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA is responsible for regulating the CDL process on a national scale, your local DMV may also dictate certain aspects of the process.
Typically, to apply for a CDL you must be 18 years of age or older (21 in some states) and already have a valid driver’s license. Some states may also require that you have been driving for a certain number of years before you are eligible to apply.
Other requirements in the CDL licensing process include:
- Obtaining a Commercial Learner’s Permit
- CDL practice testing
- Passing a skills examination
- Submitting an application
- Paying any applicable fees
Commercial Learner’s Permit
Just like the regular licensing process, most states will require that you obtain a commercial learner’s permit before you can get your CDL. To obtain your commercial learner’s permit you must:
- Schedule an appointment at your local DMV
- Bring proper identifying documentation
- Complete an application
- Pay the application fee
- Pass a vision screening
- Submit to a driving records check
- Pass all written exam
Getting Your CDL
Before you take your CDL skills test, it is recommended that you complete at least one CDL practice test as well as any available educational courses offered in your area. This will help speed the process and increase your chances of getting your license on your first try. Once you pass your CDL test, you will be required to pay any necessary fees that may apply.