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How to get a Class B CDL

Date of publish: 01/14/2022
Author: Katie Dobrogorskaya

Earning your Class B CDL is a simple process that requires just a few steps. Different states may have different requirements, but the overall process is generally the same across the United States. In this article you will find every step you need to take in order to obtain your Class B Commercial Driver’s License. 

What Is a Class B Commercial Driver’s License?

Class B CDL holders have the ability to drive vehicles weighing 26,001 or more pounds. However, if the vehicle is used for towing, the gross vehicle rating can not exceed 10,000 pounds. Class B CDL holders are permitted to operate vehicles such as: straight trucks, city and tourist passenger buses, school buses, segmented buses, box trucks, dump trucks, and tractor-trailers. 

Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit

You are required to obtain your Commercial Learner’s Permit before you can go on to test for and receive your Class B CDL. Obtaining your CLP will allow you to drive on public roads to practice for the skills test, as long as a currently certified CDL holder is seated in the passenger seat of the vehicle. To obtain your CLP you must be at least 18 years old, possess a non-commercial driver’s license in your state of residency, and provide proof of citizenship or lawful residency. 

Before you can receive your CLP, you are required to have a DOT physical and receive a DOT medical card, stating that you are physically fit enough to possess a CDL. It is required that you take your medical card and long form physical with you to the DMV when you are applying to receive your Class B CLP.

To pass the knowledge portion of your exam, it is suggested that you study for the general knowledge, air brakes, and combination vehicles portions before you go to the DMV to take your CLP exam. There are many study guides and practice tests available online to help you study. 

Add CDL Endorsements 

To drive specific types of vehicles with your Class B Commercial Driver’s License, an endorsement may be required. Class B CDL holders have access to many different endorsements. The H endorsement allows the CDL holder to drive a vehicle that is hauling Hazmat materials. The N endorsement allows drivers to operate a tanker vehicle. The P endorsement allows drivers the ability to operate a passenger vehicle with 16 or more people. The S endorsement is the secondary endorsement, in addition to the P endorsement, that is required for drivers to operate a school bus. The S endorsement is the secondary endorsement, in addition to the P endorsement, that is required for drivers to operate a school bus. Lastly, the X endorsement allows drivers to operate a tank vehicle that is hauling hazmat materials. 

Take the skills test

After you have received your CLP, you must possess it for 14 days before you are legally able to take the skills portion of your CDL test. Many states require permit holders to receive official training before taking the skills portion of the CDL exam. 

The Class B CDL exam consists of three parts that must be passed in order for you to receive your CDL. The three tests include the Vehicle Inspection Test, the Basic Controls Test, and the Road Test. The Vehicle Inspection part of the exam tests you on your understanding of what and how to inspect the vehicle before each trip. The basic controls part of the exam requires you to show your ability to maneuver the vehicle forwards, backwards, and through various turns. The final part of the exam requires you to be graded through various traffic situations, right and left turns, and railroad crossings. 

Skills tests can be taken at Privately licensed CDL schools or third party testing sites. The cost of obtaining your Class B Commercial Driver’s License can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on if you receive training from a public or private institution. 

Receive CDL from the DMV

After successfully passing the skills portion of your CDL exam, your local DMV will issue your Class B CDL and you will be ready to start hauling loads. 

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