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How to get a Commercial Driver's License 

Date of publish: 12/12/2021
Author: Katie Dobrogorskaya

Getting a Commercial Driver’s License doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Here we will make it as easy as possible for you. Simply follow the steps laid out below to meet all of the requirements set by the state in which you reside and you will have a clear process for obtaining your CDL. 

You need to make a few decisions.

The first step in obtaining any Commercial Driver’s License is studying your state’s CDL Manual. Although these manuals and the requirements vary state to state, you can find a copy of every state’s Commercial Driver’s License manual here. Taking adequate time to study the CDL Manual will help you to pass the knowledge portion of your test. 

Next, you must decide which type of vehicle and what kind of driving you would like to test for on your CDL. Most states offer 3 different types of endorsements that will allow you to drive different vehicles and cargo, but all require a skills test while some require a written test, as well. 

Get your Commercial Learner’s Permit(CLP)

The Commercial Learner’s Permit is the first step in obtaining your CDL. A CLP gives you the authority to practice for your skills test on any public road, as long as a qualified CDL holder is present in the vehicle with you. Eligibility for a CLP requires your driving record for the past ten years to be processed before you can even take the knowledge portion of your tests. The majority of states in the US require a Department of Transportation(DOT) medical card to test for your CLP, which requires you to receive a physical from a licensed DOT physician. Every state requires various fees and documents to receive your CLP. The manual you will find located here will tell you the exact requirements of your state to obtain your Commercial Learner’s Permit. 

Obtain your Commercial Driver’s License(CDL)

To take the skills portion of your CDL test, you must first receive and possess your Commercial Learner’s Permit for a minimum of 14 days. Although every state may test a little differently, they all suggest you take time to practice every skill you will be tested on before your test date to ensure your ability to move past the skill test portion of obtaining your CDL. The CDL test consists of three separate parts that you are required to pass. These include the Vehicle Inspection Test, the Basic Controls Test, and the Road Test. After you have passed all three portions of your skills test, you will submit your documents for processing to receive your Commercial Drivers License. Be sure to double-check that every piece of information on your documents is correct before submitting them to obtain your CDL, as it can be a very timely process, to begin with. 

Simply follow these 3 easy steps and you will be well on your way to earning your Commercial Driver’s License. For more state-specific details on obtaining a CDL, the FMCSA can answer any questions you may have.

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