What You Need to Know Before Getting Your CDL License

Experienced truck drivers earn a good living, and the market is usually good for landing a job. If you’re considering a career in the transportation industry, it’s very likely that you will need to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Before you sign up for a training program, there are some things you should know.

Types of CDL licenses

The first step in the pursuit of your job is to know exactly what type of license you need to get. Depending on what type of vehicle you will drive, there are different requirements for licensing. Some jobs such as taxi or Uber car driving don’t require a CDL. In order to drive semi trucks, you will be required to obtain a Class A CDL. If you’re driving a passenger bus or other type of vehicle that weighs less than 26,001 pounds, a class B CDL might be sufficient.

How to get your CDL license

Learn the requirements for your state. The minimum age in most states is 21, but there are some states that allow people as young as 18 to apply. However, if you are under 21, you will not be able to drive for most over-the-road freight companies.

When applying, you will need to submit documentation such as a driver’s license and your driving record. You will need to get a learner’s permit (CLP) before you can begin training on a semi truck to earn a CDL. The tests will consist of written exams and a road skills test. You must train with a learner’s permit for at least 14 days before taking a CDL road skills test.

There are also a number of federal regulations for operating a truck. This includes requirements for physical health. People who have high blood pressure or uncontrolled diabetes will not meet federal DOT guidelines. There is also a requirement for your body’s height-to-weight ratio which is expressed as your body mass index (BMI). People who are significantly overweight may not pass a medical exam for truck driving.

Find the right training program

Large trucking companies have training programs that defer the training costs so that you pay nothing up front. This can be a good option for a lot of people, but there are some drawbacks. Company training programs require you to sign a two-year contract to work for them exclusively, and you will be contractually obligated to pay the training fees back even if you find the job is not for you.

Trucking can be a rewarding career, but it’s not easy. People often struggle the first year or so before earning a good living, and you might spend a lot of time on the road away from your family. If you feel that this career is for you, it’s important to understand the steps and requirements for getting a CDL.

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