How do I get Started in Commercial Driving?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 February 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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If you are interested in commercial driving, that likely means you want to be paid for your skills. Proving that you have skills worthy of a cash reward is going to be a process. Entering the commercial driving industry generally involves a person engaging in a period of study followed by a series of tests.

In the United States, obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which is essential to your goal, is a process that is subject to both federal and state regulations. Before the passing of a federal law known as the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act, there were places where people could drive commercial vehicles with a regular driver’s license. This is no longer the case.

If you plan to legally drive a commercial vehicle, you must obtain a CDL. These licenses are generally available in class A, B, or C. There are also special endorsements you will need to have if you want to haul certain things such as multiple trailers, tanks, or groups of people exceeding a specified number. This means you should decide what type of commercial driving you want to do before you enter the industry.

Once you know what you want to drive, you may need to enroll in a commercial driving program. Schooling is not always required. This does not mean, however, that you should underestimate its value. Obtaining a CDL involves more than answering questions correctly on a test.


You will also have to display your knowledge and skills on the road. This means you need to learn to drive a commercial vehicle before being licensed. Federal regulations regarding skills testing require a CDL applicant to complete this part of the test in the type of vehicle he plans to drive commercially.

People generally have difficulty doing this without practice. It is advisable that you seriously consider getting behind-the-wheel education. There are usually numerous driving schools you will be able to choose from to help with this. Depending on what state you live in, there may be schools endorsed by the state government.

After you have received the training and education you need, you can proceed to your state licensing authority. Here, you will take the written test, which tends to be at least 30 questions long. You will need to get at least 80 percent of the test correct. The skills test may be conducted by the state licensing authority or it may be done by a qualified third party.

There are life circumstances that could prevent you from entering the commercial driving industry when you want to. One of those circumstances is age. Although people can often obtain a driver’s license when they are 16, people do not qualify to apply for a CDL until they are at least 18. You also will not qualify for a CDL if you have been convicted of multiple serious driving offenses or if your driver’s license has been suspended, revoked, or canceled in the past two years.



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