CDL: What It Means and How To Get One

A commercial driver’s license can open a lot of professional doors. Drivers who possess CDL’s have shown that they’re qualified to operate large motor vehicles, and they have access to a variety of quality, well-paying jobs that they may otherwise not be able to obtain. If you’re interested in getting your CDL, here are some things that you need to know.

First, you should familiarize yourself with the laws in your own state. You can get a copy of the Commercial Driver’s Licensing manual from your state’s field office. This manual will provide you with the specific information that you’ll need to meet local requirements. During this time you’ll also decide which type of CDL best fits your needs. There are three classes which all may have different testing requirements.

The first concrete step towards getting the CDL is obtaining the CDL learner’s permit. Just like a regular driver’s license, you’ll first get the learner’s permit so that you can become comfortable operating the vehicle in a controlled environment before you get out on the road on your own. You’ll need to have a CDL-licensed driver in the vehicle with you at all times, and you’ll be restricted to practicing on public roads. In order to get the permit, you’ll need to take a DOT physical, and the state will run a background check on your driving record.

The good news is that after you get the permit, you can move on to the actual CDL quite quickly (as long as your driving is up to snuff!). After a minimum of 14 days, you can go in and take the skills test. There are three parts of this test: the Vehicle Inspection, the Basic Controls, and the Road Test. All of the information that you’ll need to know is in the CDL manual, so you can practice all of these things ahead of time with your instructor. It’s extremely important that you be able to perform all of the functions on the test with ease. Driving a large vehicle like a semi, for example, requires a certain level of comfort and skill on the road. It’s a lot more difficult than driving an average car, for sure. Don’t go in to take the test until you’re confident that you can handle your truck on the road.

Once you pass the test, you’re done! All you’ll have to do is wait for processing. Some states may even give you your license the same day that you complete the test.

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