Have you ever considered trucking as a career? A trucking career is great for those who enjoy driving and want to see the country. But before you can start your trucking career, you’ll need to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). A CDL is necessary if you’ll be driving vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds or vehicles with 16 or more passengers, driver included. The requirements for truckers can vary based on each state, but here are the basics of how to become a CDL driver.
Meet the Age Requirement to Become a CDL Driver
Most states require individuals who want to obtain a CDL to be at least 21 years of age. Some states allow individuals to get a CDL as early as age 18, but most companies will want to hire drivers who are over the age of 21. If you are under 21 and want to get a CDL, check your state’s requirements.
Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit
As is required to get a regular driver’s license, you’ll need to get a permit called a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) before earning your CDL. A CLP will allow you to practice driving semi-trucks before you get your CDL, and you’ll likely need one if you’ll be enrolling in trucking school.
Enroll in a School
While strictly speaking, it’s not required but it’s advisable to enroll in a CDL program at a community college or truck driving school. These programs will help guide you through the process of getting your CDL and will help you learn on-the-road trucking skills.
Pass Your Exams to Become a CDL Driver
After completing a training program, you’ll need to pass both written and road-skills tests. For these tests, you’ll need to know the rules of the road and how to drive and maintain a commercial vehicle.
Gather Necessary Documents
Once you’ve passed your exam, make sure that you have the necessary documentation to obtain a CDL required by your state. This may include your birth certificate, social security card, passport, non-commercial driver’s license, and other legal documents.
Pass Background Screening and Physical
Finally, you’ll need to pass background screening and a physical exam required by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Be sure that you don’t have any disqualifying conditions and know that CDL drivers must pass a DOT drug and alcohol test.
Knowing how to become a CDL driver is necessary for anyone considering a career in trucking. If you follow these six steps, you’ll be well on your way to obtaining your CDL and successfully beginning your career in trucking.