Are you dreaming of hitting the open road, exploring new places, and embarking on exciting adventures? A career as a professional truck driver might be just what you need! You’ll need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to start your journey. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to get your CDL and kickstart your truck driving career.
Follow these eight steps to get your CDL:
Meet the Basic Requirements
Before you dive into the CDL application process, make sure you meet the basic requirements. Typically, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old for intrastate driving (within your state) or 21 years old for interstate driving (across state lines). You must also have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record, free from serious violations.
Choose Your CDL Class
CDLs come in different classes, and your choice depends on the type of trucking you want to do.
The three main CDL classes are:
- Class A: Required for tractor-trailers, combination vehicles, and trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) over 26,000 pounds.
- Class B: Needed for straight trucks, buses, and other large vehicles with a GVWR exceeding 26,000 pounds.
- Class C: Suitable for smaller vehicles, usually transporting hazardous materials or carrying 16 or more passengers.
Select the class that aligns with your career goals and the type of vehicles you want to operate.
Study the CDL Manual
You’ll need to study the CDL manual specific to your state to pass the CDL written test. These manuals contain valuable information about safe driving practices, traffic laws, and vehicle operation. You can usually find the manual online or at your local DMV office. Dedicate time to study and understand the material thoroughly.
Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
Before taking the CDL skills test, you can obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). To do this, visit your local DMV office, pay the required fee, and pass a written knowledge test based on the CDL manual you studied. With your CLP in hand, you can start practicing your driving skills under the supervision of a qualified CDL holder.
Enroll in CDL Training
While it’s possible to self-study and practice for your CDL skills test, many aspiring truck drivers choose to enroll in a reputable CDL training program. These programs provide hands-on training and valuable insights into the industry. Look for accredited truck driving schools that offer comprehensive training tailored to your chosen CDL class.
Practice and Prepare for the CDL Skills Test
The CDL skills test consists of a pre-trip vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, and an on-road driving test. Practice these components diligently to increase your chances of passing the test on your first attempt. Your CDL training program should prepare you for these assessments thoroughly.
Schedule and Take the CDL Skills Test
Once you feel confident in your abilities, schedule your CDL skills test with your local DMV. Be sure to bring all the required documentation, such as your CLP, proof of insurance, and any necessary fees. If you pass the skills test, you’ll receive your CDL.
Land Your First Trucking Job
With your CDL in hand, it’s time to hit the job market. Look for trucking companies that match your preferences and career goals. Many trucking companies offer on-the-job training for new drivers, so don’t be discouraged if you’re just starting.
Your Road to Success Starts Here at HDS Truck Driving Institute
As you embark on your journey to obtain your CDL and kickstart your trucking career, HDS Truck Driving Institute is your ideal partner. Our accredited school offers specialized training programs, experienced instructors, and top-notch facilities to prepare you for the CDL skills test and ensure your success.