Commercial Driver Licenses
Welcome to this Squidoo Lens about commercial driver licenses. You'll find lots of useful information about how to obtain a CDL on this page and also links out to other websites with more in depth information. Check out our information about CDL Training Requirements, CDL Medical Requirements, the different CDL Classification and also what you can expect to earn when you start working as a commercial driver.
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CDL Training Requirements
CDL training requirements vary from state to state and also depending on the type of vehicle you intend to drive and how many passengers you expect to have.
As a general rule, in order to obtain a CDL you need the following:
- A current and valid drivers license
- To be 21 years old or more for interstate driving (18 years old is okay for state wide driving in most states)
- A valid SSN
- To be physically well and able to drive
- To be medically well (this means passing a medical examination)
- To have residency in the state in which you plan to do your license testing
CDL Training Requirements - 6 Critical Components Explained
Learn about the 6 core requirements to obtaining a Commercial Drivers License in this video.
CDL Medical Requirements
Before you can get your commercial drivers license you’ll need to go through a medical examination. The examination can be carried out by any Department of Transportation approved “Medical Examiner”.
In most cases calling your local medical provider will be the quickest and easiest way to find someone qualified to perform a medical exam in your area. In many cases, your general practitioner may even be able to perform the examination required.
The medical examination is designed to ensure that you are able to safely drive a commercial motor vehicle. As such, your eyesight and hearing will be analyzed. If you don’t have great eyesight or hearing, in most cases it’s not an issue. What the medical exam aims to do is ensure that you can see and hear while you’re driving and you can obviously achieve this with the aid of hearing aids and glasses or contact lenses. If you do use hearing aids or contact lenses, the examiner will test your vision and hearing to make sure they’re right for you.
Blood pressure is another thing that’s the Department of Transportation requires you have analyzed. Again, the reason for checking your blood pressure is simply to ensure that you are able to drive safely without putting yourself or other road users at risk.
Urine samples will also be analyzed with the intention of uncovering any other potential illnesses or medical conditions that could impact your driving ability.
Lastly, your medical examiner will ask you about past health issues such as dizziness, feeling faint, or any other medical conditions you’ve had over the last 5 years.
The medical examination is required to be renewed every 2 years.
The different CDL classes exist:
Class A Commercial Drivers License
Class B Commercial Drivers License
Class C Commercial Drivers License
The 3 different license types determine the type of vehicle you’ll be able to drive. Without going into the specifics of each of the three classes, here’s a brief overview of what each classification allows you to do:
Class A CDL: This license allows you to drive the biggest trucks you see on the road including tractor-trailer units.
Class B CDL: This license allows you to drive mid-sized trucks. This license gives you less flexibility than the Class A CDL but more than the Class C CDL.
Class C CDL: This license allows you to drive small trucks and small commercial vehicles and is the least flexible of the 3 different licenses.
On top of each of the 3 licenses mentioned above, you can also add “Endorsements”. Endorsements allow you to drive special types of vehicles including:
- Buses and other large passenger vehicles
- School buses
- Vehicles that transport hazardous goods
Each endorsement requires you to pass a written and skills test.
CDL Driver Salary
Making a living as a commercial driver is very achievable due to competitive salaries. Like in all professions, commercial driver salaries vary a lot depending on the amount of experience you have, the vehicle you drive, and the amount of driving you actually do.
Employment statistics show that heavy truck drivers earn an average of $18/hour and light truck drivers about $14/hour.
Long haul drivers are most commonly paid per mile and are also paid bonuses.
The big money as a commercial truck driver comes to owner-operators who can easily earn $100,000 per year (and sometimes several hundred thousand dollars annually).
Useful CDL Information Websites
- CDL Training
Everything you need to know about CDL Training, CDL Requirements, Classifications, Endorsements and much more in one place.
- US Department of Labor
This website shows employment statistics for truck drivers and gives a general overview of job opportunities in the trucking industry.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
This is the official website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Visual Acuity
Here's some good information about Visual Acuity from Wikipedia. Visual acuity is one of the things tested in the medical examination.
- US Department of Transportation
This is the official department of transportation website - find out what they've got to say about the commercial drivers license.