CDL License 101: Requirements and How to Pass

(Last Updated On: March 16, 2024)

What does CDL stand for? It stands for “commercial driver’s license” which is a license that allows professional drivers to operate commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses, and tanker trucks. If you want to operate a commercial vehicle, you’ll need this license. This article will discuss the requirements for getting a CDL license and how you can get one yourself. If you’re wondering how much does it cost to get your CDL license, then keep reading.

How to Get a CDL License

cdl license how much it costs

Getting your CDL license is a process that requires both time and effort. However, by following these simple steps, you can get your CDL license quickly. You must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive certain commercial vehicles. A CDL license allows you to drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

The type of license you need depends on the type of vehicle you will be driving. You will need a different license if you plan on driving:

  • Trucks
  • Buses
  • Large vans
  • Other large vehicles

The Requirements for a CDL License

To get a CDL license, you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license. You will also need to pass a physical examination, a written exam, and a road test.

Some states require a clean driving record, while others may allow you to get a CDL license even if you have had accidents or traffic violations. Other requirements include:

Valid Driver’s License: You must possess a valid non-commercial driver’s license.

Medical Examination: A Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam is mandatory to ensure you meet the physical requirements for operating a commercial vehicle.

Written Knowledge Test: This test covers topics like traffic laws, safe driving techniques, and other knowledge pertinent to large vehicle operation.

Skills Test: This practical test assesses your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely. It includes a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving.

State-Specific Criteria: Each state may have additional criteria or variations in the process. For example, some states might allow individuals with certain traffic violations to apply, while others may have stricter standards. It’s essential to check with your state’s motor vehicle department for specific requirements.

Remember, the process and requirements for obtaining a CDL can vary based on the state. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult your local DMV or state transportation website for the most accurate and detailed information.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Your CDL License?

You should be aware that obtaining your CDL without proper training is almost nonsensical. That training alone might cost between $3,000 and $5,000. As a result, the total cost of obtaining a CDL license might range from a few thousand dollars to 8,000 dollars.

The Process of Getting a CDL license

The process of getting a CDL license can vary slightly from state to state, but there are some common steps you will need to take to earn your license. In general, you will need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old (or 21 years old if you want to transport hazardous materials)
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Pass a written exam
  • Pass a skills test
  • Have a clean driving record

Once you have fulfilled all of the requirements, you will be able to apply for your CDL license. You will likely need to provide some documents, such as your birth certificate and Social Security card, as well as pass a physical exam.

Once you have been issued your license, you will need to keep it up to date by renewing it every few years.

Tips for Passing the CDL Exam

Before you take the CDL exam, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the format and structure of the test. The CDL exam comprises two parts: the skills test and the written exam.

The written exam is a multiple-choice test that covers topics such as road signs, traffic laws, and safe driving techniques. To prepare for the written exam, studying a CDL manual or taking a practice test can help you feel more comfortable with the material.

The skills test is a practical exam that requires you to demonstrate your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely. To prepare for the skills test, it’s helpful to practice driving maneuvers in an empty parking lot or another safe area.

When you’re ready to take the CDL exam, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your success.

First, arrive at the testing center early, so you have plenty of time to relax and focus. Next, be sure to listen carefully to all instructions from the examiner. And finally, take your time on each question or task—rushing through the exam will only increase your chances of making mistakes.

What to Expect After Passing the CDL Exam

cdl license trucker

After you have completed all of the necessary steps to get your CDL license, you will be ready to hit the road and start your new career. But before you do, it is important to know what to expect and how to prepare for life on the open road.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You will need to find other driving job options suited to your CDL even if you may have already lined up for employment. Not all trucking companies are created equal, and this one might not be compatible with you. Having other options will help you find a company that is a good fit for you.
  2. You will be away from home for long periods of time. This can be tough, but it is important to remember that you will be able to stay in touch with loved ones via email, phone, and social media. In addition, you can leverage the advanced tools truckers use to stay connected while on the road.
  3. You will need to learn how to manage your time and money. Trucking can be a lonely job, but it is also an opportunity to see different parts of the country and meet new people. Therefore, it is important to budget your time and money so that you can make the most of your experience.
  4. You will need to maintain your rig. To keep your truck running properly, you must perform regular maintenance tasks such as oil changes, tire rotations, and engine tune-ups.
  5. You will encounter challenges on the road. No matter how experienced you are, trucking will always bring obstacles. Whether it is bad weather or traffic jams, it is important to remain calm and focused on navigating these challenges safely.

Getting a Job With a CDL License

Many trucking companies are constantly hiring drivers with CDL licenses. There are also many smaller regional and local trucking companies that are always hiring as well. The best way to find a job as a truck driver is to search online job boards (like Jooble) or contact trucking companies directly.

Tips for Driving With a CDL License

You can drive buses, trucks, and other large vehicles if you have a CDL license. You’ll need to pass a written exam and a driving test to get a CDL license.

Here are some tips for driving with a CDL license:

  • First, follow the rules of the road. Obey all traffic laws and speed limits.
  • Drive defensively by also being aware of other drivers on the road.
  • Keep your vehicle in good condition. Regularly check the tires, brakes, and lights.
  • Plan your route in advance. Know where you’re going and how to get there.
  • Allow plenty of time for rest stops. Finally, don’t try to drive long distances without taking breaks.


Electronic logs for trucks

So why is it important to get a CDL license?

There are many reasons why it’s essential to get a CDL license. For one, it allows you to operate a commercial vehicle. This means you can drive trucks, buses, and other large vehicles. Without a CDL license, you would not be able to do this.

Another reason why it’s essential to get a CDL license is because it shows that you are a professional driver. This can give you an advantage when applying for jobs. It can also make you a more attractive candidate for promotions.

Getting a CDL license can also help you earn more money. Many companies are willing to pay drivers with a CDL license more than they would pay drivers without one. This is because drivers with a CDL license have the training and experience necessary to operate a commercial vehicle safely.

Many employers prefer to hire drivers with a CDL license because they know that these drivers have the training and skills necessary to operate a CMV safely. Having a CDL license can also help you earn more money. Drivers with a CDL license usually earn more than drivers without one because they can drive more types of vehicles and transport more expensive cargo.

Having a CDL license is beneficial because it shows that you are a safe and responsible driver. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and those who have proven themselves to be safe and reliable drivers are more likely to be granted this privilege. If you have ever been convicted of a serious traffic offense, you may not be able to get a regular driver’s license. However, you may still be eligible for a CDL license if you complete the required training and pass the necessary tests.

Overall, there are many reasons why getting a CDL license is important. If you are interested in becoming a commercial vehicle driver, then you should definitely consider getting your CDL license.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how to get a CDL license, as the process can vary depending on your state of residence and the type of license you need. However, there are some general steps that all applicants will need to follow, which include passing a written exam, completing a skills test, and completing a road test. After successfully completing all of these tests, you will be issued your CDL license.

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About the author

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April Quibido

A seasoned writer with a good amount of experience writing for the trucking industry. April loves writing about all sorts of fun and interesting topics online. Besides her three-year old daughter, coffee is her best friend.

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Share what you learned!

About the author

Picture of April Quibido

April Quibido

A seasoned writer with a good amount of experience writing for the trucking industry. April loves writing about all sorts of fun and interesting topics online. Besides her three-year old daughter, coffee is her best friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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