Class A CDL vs. Class B CDL

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Earning this license is the first step to becoming a truck driver. There is more than one type of license and it is important to understand which class you will need. At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) our training programs allow you to earn a Class A CDL or a Class B CDL. 

Class A CDL

A Class A CDL is the most common type of commercial driver’s license. It is also more universal than a Class B license as it allows you to drive almost any type of CMV. You will need a Class A CDL to operate a CMV with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more and a towing capacity of more than 10,000 pounds. 

CMVs that you can drive with a Class A license include:

  • Tractor-Trailers: A tractor-trailer is a large truck that pulls an attached semi-trailer. Tractor-trailer and semi-truck are often used interchangeably, but a semi-truck technically refers only to the front portion of the vehicle, not the attached trailer. 
  • Flatbed Trucks: A flatbed truck has a front portion that looks similar to the front of a tractor-trailer. However, instead of an enclosed trailer, it has a flat and level area on the back with no walls or enclosure. Freight must be properly secured in order to transport it using a flatbed truck. 
  • Tank Vehicles: A tank vehicle or tank truck transports liquid, gas, or dry bulk loads. You will also need a tanker endorsement to drive one of these CMVs.

Class B CDL

A Class B CDL allows you to drive a CMV with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more that tows a vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds. The towing capacity is the biggest difference between the Class A and Class B licenses. 

With a Class B CDL, you can drive most straight trucks (which have a mounted body rather than an attached trailer), dump trucks, or box trucks. With appropriate qualifications, you can drive a bus. You may also be able to drive some smaller tractor-trailers. 

Which CDL Do You Need?

A Class A CDL is generally the best choice if you are interested in a long-term career in trucking. Class A CDL jobs usually pay more and you have a larger range of opportunities with this type of license. However, earning a Class B CDL can be a good choice if you know the type of trucking job you want only requires a Class B license.

HDS truck driving school offers CDL training for both types of licenses. Our advisors can help you determine which program is best for your needs. 

CDL Endorsements

Endorsements are additional certifications that you can add to your CDL. These can help you qualify for more diverse jobs within the trucking industry. In addition to knowing what type of CDL you will need, you should also determine whether your preferred jobs require endorsements. At HDS truck driving school, you can earn endorsements for hazardous materials, tankers, and doubles/triples. 

Earn Your CDL at HDS

You can earn a Class A or Class B license at HDS truck driving school. We help prepare you for your CDL exam and give you the skills you need to succeed as a truck driver. 

Contact us today to learn more about our Class A or Class B CDL training programs.