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August 19, 2019

What is a CDL?

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A CDL is a Commercial Driver's License that is required to drive commercial motor vehicles. This license is needed for any drivers that will be operating commercial driving equipment or other types of heavy machinery. To get a CDL, you will need to pass the CDL training courses and a driving test quite like getting a regular driver's license. The first year it was required to carry a CDL was the year 1986 when the Vehicle Motor and Safety Act was passed. Before this, each state had its own laws for driving heavy machinery, causing there to be unnecessary accidents and several road deaths. The new law prohibits commercial driving without the proper CDL license. Even hot shot truckers are required to have a CDL on the road. 

The three types of CDL's

There are three types of CDL's you can get, and each one has it's a separate set of requirements. To become a CDL driver, you will need to meet at least one of these class requirements. 

Class A

A Class A CDL is required when you plan to operate any vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,001 lbs, given that the towed vehicle weighs more than 10,000 pounds. When you have a Class A CDL, you will be able to operate the following vehicles. 


  • Truck Trailer Combination
  • Tractor Trailer
  • Livestock Carriers
  • Flatbeds
  • Tractor Trailor Bus

Class B

A Class B CDL license is required for anyone planning to operate a vehicle with a total combined weight rating of 26,001 lbs, or more, or a tow vehicle no more than 10,000 pounds. When you have a Class B CDL, you will be able to operate the following vehicles. 


  • Straight Trucks
  • Large Passenger Buses
  • Segmented Buses
  • Box Trucks
  • Dump Trucks with Small Trailers
  • Tractor Trailer

Class C

A Class C CDL license will be required to operate a vehicle made to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver. This license is also needed if you plan to transport hazardous materials or equipment, these include any materials that are rated dangerous under the law. The following vehicles can be operated when you have a Class C CDL license. 

  • Small HazMAt vehicles 
  • Combination Vehicles not covered by Classes A or B
  • Passenger Vans

What is a CDL permit?

You will need a CDL permit before you can become a truck driver, even if you plan on working for a small truck driving company. You can receive your permit once you pass your general knowledge exam at your local department of motor vehicles. A CDL permit allows you to drive a commercial vehicle as long as you are with another passenger that already has their CDL license. You will need a CDL permit for when you are training to get your license. Once you have your permit you are one step closer to maintaining your own commercial vehicle


CDL endorsements

When you are getting your CDL, there are plenty of endorsements that you can add on to your license. Depending on the endorsements you want with your license, you will need to pass a written CDL endorsement test. Other endorsements like HazMat will require you to have a background check before being added to your CDL license. 

CDL training

You may wonder if CDL training school is it even worth it. While it's possible to get your CDL without a training school, it is also not a good idea. Everyone that has tried to get their CDL license without training school has soon realized how hard it is to run, operate, and drive a commercial vehicle. Find a training school near you that’s easy to get to and has the best schedule that fits you.

How long does it take to get a CDL?

CDL training classes on average tend to take up to seven weeks, but that’s with dedicated time and up to five days a week. Starting your career in truck driving is a big commitment and means you will have to spend a lot of time learning before you can get good at it. Every school is different and has different programs you can take, but if you are planning to work while in school you can plan on it taking a little over the average mark. Also, if you plan on getting a Class A license, it could take longer as well because you are going to be getting a license that allows you to drive a higher variety of commercial vehicles.


Thank you for reading our article “What is CDL?” If you are interested in becoming a truck driver for a small truck driving company C.T.C trucking is the place to go. With less time on the roads, you can be home with your family almost every night. You can call us at (801) 251-7124 or contact us online.