Are you thinking about becoming a professional truck or bus driver? If so, you must have a CDL or Commercial Driver’s License. But, how do you get a CDL? Here’s a brief overview.
Decide What Type of License You Need
Although regulations vary by state, CDL licenses generally break down as follows:
- CDL Class A – Tractor trailers, tank vehicles, livestock carriers, flatbeds
- CDL Class B – Large passenger buses, delivery trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, garbage trucks
- CDL Class C – Passenger vans (for more than 16 people), HazMat vehicles
Check Your State’s Requirements
Again, each state has slightly different rules. In most cases, you must show proof of citizenship, pass a medical examination and be at least 18 years of age (or 21 to drive across state lines). You may need to complete a background check as well.
Study for the Knowledge Test
Just as with a regular driver’s license, you must pass a written exam to receive your learner’s permit. Usually, you take the test on a computer and receive the results immediately. Be sure to take advantage of free study materials on your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s website. For example, Illinois offers a study guide, while Wisconsin provides a practice test app.
Begin the Application Process
To figure out exactly what documents you’ll need, visit your state’s DMV website. Many states, including Wisconsin, provide interactive guides. The guides walk you through the process step by step, so you don’t miss anything.
Visit Your Local DMV
When you are ready, make an appointment (if necessary) and head out to the DMV. All states charge fees for issuing a CDL. You may have to pay everything all at once, or you may be able to pay for permit fees up front and licensing fees later.
When you’ve earned your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), you can start practicing with a supervising driver. This driver must have a CDL license in the same class as your permit. Even though it’s not required, many people choose to attend a certified trucking school. Standard programs run 30 to 40 hours over the course of four to ten weeks, and tuition ranges from $3,000 to $5,000.
Schedule Your Road Test
Most states require you to wait at least two weeks before scheduling your skills test. Keep in mind, you may need to pass additional certification courses and/or log a certain number of practice hours too. When the day of your road test finally arrives, a licensed examiner will observe and evaluate your driving skills. You must take the test in the same type of vehicle you will be driving. Bus drivers drive buses, tractor trailer drivers drive tractor trailers and so on. Once you pass this last exam, you will be the proud owner of your very own CDL!
Are You Looking for a Trucking Job?
Halpin Staffing Services is currently looking for tractor trailer, semi and delivery truck drivers based in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Search our available openings, and put your CDL to work today!