The Main Steps to Getting a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)

Introduction: The Main Steps to Getting a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)

About: Hi, my name is Aidan and I run, a website designed to help people get their commercial drivers license. I'm creating a few "Instructables" as well to help people see how easy it is to get th…

Commercial vehicles have special features which mean a driver must have Commercial Driver’s License (or CDL for short) in order to drive and operate one. There are several steps and requirements included in the process of acquiring a legitimate CDL. This “Instructable” is designed to give you a brief overview of the process…please note that different states often have slightly different requirements in order to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License, the best thing you can do is ask for more information at your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Step 1: Age & Physical Eligibility

Eligibility is vital in acquiring a CDL, quite simply, if you’re not old enough, you can’t get one.

The applicant must be at least 21 years of age however there are also some states who issue license to individuals from 18 to 20 years old. Nevertheless, those under 21 years of age are not allowed to drive outside their home state until they turn 21 years old. Applicants must also know how to read, speak and communicate in English and with traffic officers. They must learn and understand traffic signs and should be physically capable to drive a commercial vehicle.

Step 2: Citizenship & Residency Requirements

Applicants must be a certified resident of the state that they are applying for the CDL in. They must provide their proof of their legal full name and residential address. Social Security Number and citizenship in the US, whether through legal immigration or citizenship status are likewise important requirements to comply with.

Step 3: Education & Skills Tests

Once you know you meet the basic requirements to obtain a CDL, the applicant must undergo training and pass the exams. There are different training centers providing courses and programs for commercial vehicle driving, and quite often the larger companies are willing to pay you while you train.

Training programs are a good idea when working towards passing the road and written tests because they allow applicants to be in touch with prospective employers.

Step 4: Pass the Exams

Applicants must pass a two-part exam, the written test and the road test.

The written test includes a general knowledge test which touches on the traffic fundamentals as well as truck safety. The questionnaires for the knowledge test are dependent on the kind of commercial vehicle the applicant is applying for.

Bus driver applicants have different test sections compared to drivers who are applying for commercial vehicles which transport hazardous materials (these extra tests are called endorsements).

The road test is another important part of the exam process and includes the pre-trip vehicle inspection. This determines how well the applicant understands the safety requirements and the commercial vehicle he is applying for to drive. The Road Test also includes demonstration of control skills for the vehicle such as backing, turning within confined areas, and moving forwards. Applicants must also pass the on-road driving test.

Useful Resources:

CDL Training Website:

CDL Training Guide:

CDL Endorsements Guide:

CDL Requirements Video:

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    nice and simple page. Looks like a good squidoo replacement