CDL requirements overview in 2021

January 19, 20210

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a driver’s license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in the United States in commerce.

There are a several different types of commercial motor vehicles that require a driver to hold a valid commercial driver’s license.

You must pass both a written knowledge exam and a driving skills test, which are designed by your state.

Type of LicenseDescriptionTypes of VehiclesKnowledge ExamsSkills Exams
Class A CDLRequired to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds.
Truck/trailer combinations.
Tanker vehicles.
Tractor-trailer buses.
Livestock carriers.
Flatbed trucks.  
General Knowledge.   Air Brakes.   Combination Vehicles.  Pre-Trip Inspection.

Basic control skills exercises.

Road driving Exam.  
Class B CDLRequired for drivers to operate a single vehicle that has a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or heavier or tow a vehicle not heavier than 10,000 pounds.Straight trucks.
Box trucks such as couriers, furniture delivery, delivery trucks.
Dump trucks with a small trailer compartment.
Large passenger buses that include city buses or school buses.
Segmented buses.
General Knowledge.   Air Brakes.  Pre-Trip Inspection.

Basic control skills exercises.

Road driving Exam.  
Class C CDLRequired to operate a vehicle that is created to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or transport hazardous materials.  Small HazMat. Passenger vans.
Combination vehicles not covered by Classes A or B.  
General Knowledge.   Passenger Transport.
School Bus.
Hazardous Materials.  
Pre-Trip Inspection.

Basic control skills exercises.

Road driving Exam.  

Who can get a CDL?

The minimum age to apply for a CDL is typically 21. However, some states allow drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to apply for a single-state CDL.

A single-state CDL allows the driver to only operate a commercial vehicle within the driver’s state of residence (intrastate driving). When the driver turns 21, that restriction is automatically removed.

If you are ready to start a new and well-paid career, you can take the first step with Start CDL Training.


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