CDL Class A Drivers License

If you are training to become a truck driver, you will need to take courses that prepare you for the CDL exam. A Commercial Driver's License is simply a permit that allows you to drive trucks and any combination of vehicles that have a gross weight of more than 26,001 pounds. The Class A CDL is granted to drivers who will only be driving vehicles more than 26,001 pounds and a towing weight of more than 10,001 pounds. You will need a different class of CDL to operate vehicles that fall under other categories.


What is a Class A CDL?

A Class A CDL refers to the Commercial Drivers License granted to drivers who will operate any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds with vehicles being towed in excess of 10,000 pounds. If you are applying for this type of license, you will need to pass the following exams: General Knowledge; Air Brakes; Combination Vehicle; and Pre-Trip Inspection. If you are seeking any type of special endorsements, you will also need to pass some other exams applicable to each endorsement. Future employers will request proof of this license during the application process.

If you are going to be driving a passenger vehicle, a tank vehicle, or a vehicle that will be transporting hazardous materials, you will need to take an additional test to get a CDL endorsement. These endorsements are simply added to your CDL license as proof that you have passed a test for a particular vehicle. CDL endorsements include:

  • T - Double/Triple Trailers
  • P - Passenger
  • N - Tank Vehicle
  • H - Hazardous Materials
  • X - Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials

Each state administers its own CDL exam and use the Federal Guidelines as the minimum standard. This is why the tests and requirements can vary slightly from state to state.

Class A CDL License Requirement

While completing a formal training program to get your CDL license is not required, many people do find that this type of training adequately prepares them for the written exam and the behind-the-wheel test. CDL training programs typically include classroom training, hands-on training, and interactive activities so that truck drivers know how to operate and maintain different types of vehicles, and also perform all safety checks appropriately. Many employers prefer to hire candidates that have completed some type of professional training program and might even offer some type of sponsorship opportunities for eligible candidates.

Each state may have a few different licensing requirements but most will require the following to get the Class A CDL:

  • Possession of or qualification for a non-commercial Class C driver license
  • A clean driving record
  • Completion of a Commercial Driver License Application (Form 735-175)
  • Proof of legal presence in the United States, identity, and date of birth
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of state residence address
  • Passing the CDL General Knowledge Test
  • Passing the CDL Combination Knowledge Test
  • Passing the Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Test
  • Passing the Basic Control Skills Test
  • Passing the Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test
  • Providing a valid DOT Medical Certificate
  • Payment of all appropriate fees to the DMV