Driving a large commercial vehicle like the ones offering semi truck towing services is the dream of many people. However, while it may be easier than ever to earn an apprenticeship in this industry, getting your CDL license is no easy task. How long does it take to get a CDL? The answer depends on your state and the path you choose for training.
Every state has different requirements regarding the amount of time one must spend in an approved driver’s education program before applying for their permit. Most states require ten hours of behind-the-wheel experience and six hours of classroom instruction before taking their written exam. Some states have stricter guidelines, though all are intended to ensure that new drivers have the necessary knowledge to be behind the wheel before receiving their permit.
Most training programs will take you at least 30 days to complete. For many, this means being in the driver’s seat for six hours per day and spending time between lessons studying, or completing other required tasks, for instance, watching videos of truck equipment parts. It is important to remember that every state has different requirements for obtaining your CDL license, so one must be sure to thoroughly research what steps are needed to get licensed by their desired job. Here are some of the most common steps followed during this particular period when obtaining a CDL License:
Step 1: Get on The Books of The State Department of Transportation
State departments of transportation (DOT) must make commercial drivers complete specific steps before allowing them to obtain a CDL, which includes getting their name on the department’s picture driver license system. This process often requires a trip to a local DOT office and sometimes may take eight weeks for results. Although you cannot get issued a license until you pass both written and skills tests, placing your name on the system allows you to take them once they become available in your area. Here are several things you will undertake in this step:
Call the state Department of Transportation Office where you wish to be licensed, or visit its website for contact information. Ask about this department’s special commercial learner permit, the permit you’ll use to practice driving before taking the actual CDL written and skills tests. After that, Visit a local DOT office. Almost all of these offices require an appointment, so call beforehand.
The next thing is to pass a vision test, a knowledge test, and a computerized driving test at a local DOT office. The knowledge test is based on the state’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. All applicants must know before moving on to the next step in getting on their Department of Transportation’s books to apply for the CDL learner permit.
Lastly, bring documentation from your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or auto insurance company verifying that you have been issued an operator’s license or identification card within the last three years.
Step 2: Take or Purchase Required Classes
A few different types of CDL licenses are available for those who desire a professional trucking career on the road, for instance, those willing to provide towing service. Each has its own unique set of requirements that must be met to obtain one. These license levels are Sub-Class A, Class B, Class C, and Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement Classes. Laws vary from state to state, so it’s best to check with each respective DMV.
Sub-Class A (This Is the Type of CDL That Intrastate Truck Drivers Should Obtain)
To get a commercial driver’s license for this class, you must be at least 21 years old and have three years of driving experience with a regular Class C license. You will also need to pass a general knowledge test covering motor vehicle regulations and a pre-trip inspection and skills test. However, once you take these tests and pass them, you do not necessarily need to start driving right away since most states allow you to wait up to 6 months before getting your endorsement added to your license. If your state requires any additional testing or certification, it is essential to follow any instructions given by the DMV.
Class B (This Is the Type of CDL That Interstate Truck Drivers Should Obtain)
To get a commercial driver’s license for this class, you must be 18 years old and have at least one year of driving experience with a Class C license. If your state allows, you may substitute an additional year of driving experience with another type of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in place of the required year. You will also need to pass a general knowledge test covering motor vehicle regulations and a pre-trip inspection and skills test. However, once you take these tests and pass them, you do not necessarily need to start driving right away since most states allow you to wait up to 6 months before getting your endorsement added to your license. If your state requires any additional testing or certification, it is essential to follow any instructions given by the DMV.
This is the type of CDL that most truck drivers who do not intend on driving across state lines will obtain. A Class C license is what you get if you want to drive a commercial vehicle that does not exceed 26,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). If you’re going to drive vehicles of this weight class, you must be at least 18 years of age and have one year of driving experience with a regular Class C license. You also need to pass three general knowledge tests covering motor vehicle regulations and a pre-trip inspection and skills test to get your endorsement added to your license.
This is the type of CDL that interstate truck drivers who drive double or triple trailers should obtain. To get a Class A commercial driver’s license for this class, you must be at least 21 years old and have at least two years of driving experience with a Class C license. You will also need to pass three general knowledge tests covering motor vehicle regulations and a pre-trip inspection and skills test to get your endorsement added to your license. However, once you take these tests and pass them, you do not necessarily need to start driving right away since most states allow you to wait up to 6 months before getting your endorsement added to your license. If your state requires any additional testing or certification, it is essential to follow any instructions given by the DMV.
Step 3: Adjust to Commercial Driving Conditions
When individuals apply for a CDL license, they can take their test in a commercial or regular vehicle. Most people are more comfortable driving their vehicles than being behind the wheel of larger trucks that require different skills necessary for parallel parking, tight turns, and other safer practices that follow state laws.
Drivers must be aware of their surroundings and adjust accordingly when moving from standard vehicles to commercial ones; for example, they should know where to obtain bucket truck repairs in case of any uncertainties. They should also know how to turn signals and mirrors following state law and ensure that intoxication levels do not exceed the legal limit to obtain your license successfully. Drivers must use caution and become accustomed to driving in similarly congested traffic when making left-hand turns, parallel parking, and right-hand turns, especially in busy business districts. The federal government requires you to take vision tests, physical examinations, and knowledge tests before obtaining a CDL license. These requirements are meant to ensure safety on the road when transporting passengers or cargo in commercial vehicles.
Step 4: Get Experience with a Commercial Vehicle
At a minimum, commercial drivers operating in interstate commerce must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Many states require prospective drivers to complete an accredited driver training program to qualify for a CDL. While there is no federal mandate for this prerequisite, it is common in every state.
One way to fulfill this requirement in some states is by getting experience with a commercial vehicle through a formal arrangement between stakeholders such as schools or employers. Such experience can be acquired during or after completing education programs to obtain a CDL license. It varies from state to state but typically entails shadowing an experienced driver and completing additional instruction beyond the scope of what is necessary for licensing purposes.
Many commercial driving schools offer physical and automotive online training programs to acquire work experience. Generally, these involve visiting customers or making deliveries on behalf of an employer or client company. In many cases, this experience is acquired as part of the formal requirements associated with a CDL training program.
In addition to vocational schools, some companies specialize in providing work experience with commercial vehicles. These programs involve renting equipment to prospective drivers who seek a CDL license and supplying them with job assignments they can complete while attending school or obtaining their standard driver’s license. After finishing their education and receiving a CDL license from a state motor vehicle department, the company may hire them. In most cases, these arrangements will entail completing specified amounts of time-based work orders before attaining employment with the firm.
Going through an accredited driving school can help prepare inexperienced drivers for all aspects of operating a commercial vehicle, including maintaining the vehicle and incorporating truck wash service regularly. Many schools require students to work assignments as part of their training program. Training companies help guide individuals through the prerequisites required to obtain a CDL license and ensure they have sufficient experience before applying for state licensing examinations.
Step 5: Schedule Your Skills Test
After successfully finishing the previous four steps, it is now time to make an appointment at your local DMV or DOT office so that you can finally test out your newfound skills by taking the pre-trip inspection and road skills tests. Because CDLs are valuable assets to any business and essential tools for professional drivers, getting one issued to you requires proper training and testing to ensure that those who drive them know what they’re doing. If you fail these tests, you will need to retake them until you pass them. However, once you pass them, you will have successfully obtained your CDL and can then begin your driving career or transition into a different line of work.
Insurance Requirements or Stipulations with Getting Your CDL
After understanding the length of time to obtain a CDL license and what is required in each step, it is also vital to understand that getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) isn’t free and clear. There are several requirements (insurance requirements or stipulations), all of which must be met before you can receive your CDL:
You must be at least 21 years old to apply for a CDL license. Minors under 21 may also apply for a CDL, but a minor’s permit is only valid until the applicant’s 21st birthday.
You must not have more than three moving violations within the last three years. If you choose to use this article as a reference when taking your DMV test, please note that the DMV has its own rules and regulations for this. They include no alcohol-related convictions, no drug-related convictions, and traffic violations/accidents involving fatalities to the extent of requiring auto accident lawyers or personal injuries in the past seven years.
It is also required by state law that you provide proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency and current residence (this requirement may vary from state to state).
You must always maintain the required amounts of liability insurance coverage while operating any commercial motor vehicle (your commercial auto insurance carriers will give you a certificate of insurance that proves that you have the required range). In addition, you can also seek advice from a personal injury law office regarding the best appropriate cover.
Getting a CDL license can take quite some time, depending on how much studying and practice you do. The process involves more than what training offers since individuals must also learn other skills not acquired in class; for instance, they should understand how to find trustworthy custom metal garages if they have problems with the vehicle’s parts. If you study and practice regularly for hours every day, the process should only take two weeks. If you put less time into studying and practicing or don’t enjoy it so much, it could take up to a month to get the CDL license.