Commercial Driver's License Requirements
Your CDL or Commercial Driver's License, is your passport to being able to have whatever sort of truck driving career you want in the industry. The minimum age for application is usually 21, though some states allow 18-20 year old drivers to apply for a CDL, provided they only drive within their state of residence.
This single-state CDL converts to a 50 state CDL when you turn 21. You still need to be 21 years of age to obtain HazMat or school bus qualifications and in some states, you cannot apply for a Class A license until you're over 21. Though it's not necessary to take a school course to obtain your CDL, you still need to take a written test on highway safety and different parts of a truck, with at least 30 comprehensive questions on the test. You need to answer at least 80 percent of the questions correctly and pass the driving skills test. The driving skills test must be taken in the type of vehicle the driver plans to operate. See our CDL Test Preparation page for a list of places to find sample tests.
Before applying for your CDL, you need to make sure you have a good driving record. This means, you need to certify that within the prior 2 years:
- You have not had a revoked, suspended or cancelled license
- You have not been convicted of any serious traffic violations
Many trucking companies will help you get your CDL while you're taking one of their truck driving courses. The best companies will also make sure that you're being properly trained in the safe and proper use of the vehicle, every step of the way. The cost of the truck driving course as well as the CDL testing can be paid off during your eventual employment with these trucking companies. Over a period of two years, the cost of your training is deducted - a little bit each month - until the cost is paid off. This allows students with little chance of getting a student loan, the chance to train for a position that can help them to build a career as a truck driver. Check to see if the company you want to drive for has any training plans available for new or student drivers. It'll make getting your license and training a whole lot easier, when you know that you have a job waiting when you graduate from the course.