To operate as a professional truck driver, you must first earn your Class A commercial driver’s license, or CDL. This license allows you to drive a semi over the road and ensures that you know all the rules of the road when going out.
If you’re ready to get started in trucking and want to learn how to get a CDL, we’ve compiled some of the requirements you must meet in order to obtain a CDL and a brief look into some of your CDL training.
What is CDL training and what does it include?
CDL training works to teach you the skills and knowledge you’ll need to be able to safely and successfully drive a truck. Though you aren’t necessarily required to go through training to obtain a CDL, it is far better for you to receive proper training so you are aware of the road regulations and standards you will be obligated to know and follow.
CDL training can be completed in a variety of different ways. The two most common options are through a truck driving school or through a company-sponsored CDL training program. This often comes with expensive out-of-pocket costs and may take longer. Another option is to enroll in a truck driving training program that has far lower tuition costs and may offer you a job after completion.
CDL training is typically split into two portions:
- Classroom instruction. Before you get behind the wheel of a truck, you’ll need to learn some basic information about rules of the road and how to maneuver a rig. This classroom time will also include instruction over state and federal laws regarding trucking so you are up to date on the legal requirements.
- Hands-on training. CDL training includes getting behind the wheel of a truck to learn how to properly drive a rig. A certified instructor will work alongside you, allowing time to observe the instructor and to practice driving yourself. This will prepare you to take the CDL Exam required to earn your CDL. The CDL Exam includes 3 parts: road test, vehicle inspection, and backing test.
How to get a CDL
No matter where you earn your CDL, there are a few guidelines that must be followed regardless. CDL requirements can include, but are not limited to:
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Having had a commercial learner’s permit for at least 14 days
- Must pay a fee to obtain your Class A CDL through the DMV
- Currently hold a valid non-commercial driver’s license
- Not be disqualified due to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations
- Not hold a CDL in another state
What tests do you have to pass?
In order to obtain your CDL permit, you must pass a written test. To obtain the Class A CDL, you will need to pass 3 portions of the exam: road test, vehicle inspection, and backing test. The specific requirements of these tests vary from state to state, so it is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of every requirement. If you have specific questions regarding how to get a CDL in your state, contact your local DMV or the FMCSA to learn more. Some of the requirements have been listed below, however, these may not apply for every state.
The CDL permit written exam consists of the following sections: general knowledge, air brakes, and combination. In order to pass your written test you may be required to show understanding of the following concepts:
- Proper vehicle inspection
- Basic driving skills
- Calculating stopping distance
- Maintaining appropriate space while driving
- Adapting to inclement weather
- What to do in emergencies
- Shifting gears
- Maintaining a field of vision with traffic
- Controlling vehicle speed in compromising situations like slippery road vehicles, sharp curves, steep hills, and heavy traffic
- Sharing the road with other vehicles
To pass your CDL exam, you may have to successfully perform some of the following tasks:
- Reversing and parking exercises
- Merging in and out of traffic
- Going through railroad crossings
- Docking and parallel parking
- Changing lanes and turning
- Proper gear shifting
- Conducting pre and post trip inspections
Whether you haven’t earned your CDL yet or if you already have one, there’s a place for you at Prime to kick off your trucking career.
Contact us today and we’ll set you up with a recruiter to discuss your options for obtaining your CDL to get you on the road. If you’re ready to apply to Prime, click on Apply Now at the top of this website page.