A 9-5 job is not for everyone. For many, the sense of adventure and diverse opportunities is important to genuinely enjoy a specific career. For those who want something beyond an office setting, a career on the road can be an attractive solution. Truck driving is a great field for someone who does not mind living on the road.
Many choose this career for the opportunity to travel, be their own boss, and make a great financial foundation. When it comes to entering this profession, it is a requirement across the nation to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is a major step for people interested in professional driving at any level. For those who are interested in this profession, here’s what might be helpful to know about the time it takes to earn a CDL.
What is a CDL?
A CDL is a Commercial Driver’s License and is required nationwide to operate commercial vehicles. Several types of vehicles and professions could require this type of license. There can also be additional special endorsements a person may need to have, depending on the type of vehicle being operated or items being transported, including endorsements for hazardous materials, passenger vehicles, or tankers. Regardless of the type of CDL and endorsements you pursue, you will be required to pass a written test as well as a skill and road test.
Steps Required to Obtain a CDL
As of 2022, there are a few specific steps required for individuals looking to obtain a CDL. These steps include:
- Meeting age requirements. You need to be at least 18 years old to obtain a CDL. You must be 21 years old to drive across state lines (Interstate). 18-20-year-old drivers are restricted to in-state only driving (Intrastate). Before you can take a CDL Skills Test to obtain a CDL, you must complete an Entry Level Driver Training course that meets FMCSA requirements from a training provider listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.
- Submit proper paperwork. It is important to fill out your state’s CDL application completely and accurately and provide any attached processing fees. Documentation such as a state ID and your social security card may be required as well as your state’s DMV offices and website will include information needed for proof of residency. Other paperwork can include a medical examiner’s certificate and a medical examination report form.
- Vision test. As a commercial driver, your commitment to safety must be even higher than that of an average driver. This includes providing proof that you can see accurately while driving.
- Pass a knowledge test. Just like the testing needed to secure a standard driver’s license, you will need to pass certain exams to qualify for a CDL license. If you pass your knowledge tests, you will be issued a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). Once you have your permit, you will have to wait at least two weeks before scheduling a CDL skills examination.
- Pass your CDL skills test. In many instances, you will need to provide your own vehicle. Depending on the CDL you are trying to obtain and where you are training, employers or educational programs will often provide the vehicle for testing.
- Pay any necessary fees. Once you pass your test, you will wrap up the process by paying any fees associated with the new license. From that point on, you will be ready to start your professional driving career.
Types of CDL Classes
There are three different classes of CDLs with a variety of endorsements for diverse types of commercial vehicles such as buses, tank trucks, tractor-trailers, etc. Regardless of the type of class, you will need to pass written knowledge tests to obtain a learner’s permit and a skills test to obtain a CDL.
The majority of those entering this field choose to pursue a Class A CDL license first. A Class A License is needed for those who plan to drive a combination of different vehicles that could weigh over 26,000 pounds and vehicles towing over 10,000 pounds. This often includes trailers and semi-trailers that have two or more axles. To qualify for a Class A CDL, you will complete the items mentioned above for a commercial license.
McCann School of Business and Technology offers a CDL: Class A Tractor-Trailer program that can help interested individuals obtain their CDL. They provide both in-class instruction and behind-the-wheel training to help students get the most out of their education. Programs begin every four to eight weeks, allowing interested individuals to get started on the process as quickly as possible.
How Long Does It Take?
There are a few distinct factors that can influence how long obtaining a CDL can take. You will have to be the required age, as well as attend a CDL training program. If you can enroll right away, most programs last four to six weeks. Length can vary, however. For example, the McCann School of Business and Technology program can be accomplished in as little as four weeks. Once you finish your program, it comes down to turning in your necessary paperwork and taking and passing your mandatory testing. If you can avoid complications and complete the training program in the allotted time, most students can obtain their CDL within one to two months.
Start Your Journey Today
If you are looking for a career path that takes you out of the office and onto the open road, gaining your CDL license can be the first step into a new and lucrative career. At McCann School of Business and Technology, we can provide you with the tools and experience to obtain your CDL quickly.