Do I Need a CDL to Get a Job as a Truck Driver?

Trucking Thinking of getting a driver’s job, but not sure if you need a CDL? There are some types of driving jobs in the U.S. that do not require a commercial driver’s license (CDL), but it is a requirement for almost all professional truck driving jobs. When you have A CDL, you have a key that can open plenty of doors to professional opportunities.

What Is a CDL?

A CDL is a special driver’s license that is a federal requirement for anyone operating any type of vehicle weighing 10,001 or more pounds for commercial use, that transports quantities of hazardous materials that require warning signs on the vehicle or that is designed to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation or 16 or more passengers (including the driver) for non-compensation. This includes, but is not limited to tow trucks, tractor trailers and buses. Although there are Federal guidelines in place for obtaining a CDL, each state has its own set of application procedures and training regulations.

Why CDLs Are Required

Before implementation of the CDL Program in 1986, licensing requirements for driving larger vehicles and buses varied from state to state. Many drivers were operating motor vehicles that they may not have been properly trained or qualified to drive. This lack of standardized training resulted in a large number of preventable traffic deaths and accidents. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was intended to ensure that truck drivers and drivers of tractor trailers and buses are qualified to drive Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), and to remove drivers that are unsafe and unqualified from the highways.

Types of CDL Licenses for Professional Drivers

There are various types of CDL licenses, depending on the vehicle being operated and what it is carrying:

  • Class A: Required to drive any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B:  Required to drive any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
  • Class C: Required to operate single or combination vehicles designed to hold 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or a relatively small vehicle that is hauling hazardous materials.
  • Class A Covers All:  Required to drive any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
    (Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles).
  • Endorsements: There are also specific endorsements that may be required to operate special vehicles, such as those hauling hazardous materials, tandem (double) trailers and more.

Best Ways to Obtain Your CDL

You can legally get your CDL without attending a legitimate truck driving school, but it is very hard to get a good job with a CDL that is not from a recognized school. You’ll find many more opportunities if you get your training through a company-sponsored CDL training program or a private truck driving school.

Great Job Opportunities for CDL Drivers

One of the best job opportunities for a CDL driver is working for a staffing company. Different from a temp agency, staffing companies offer more stability, flexibility, competitive compensation packages that include good benefits, paid time off and long-term assignments. When you work for a staffing company, you can expect to work for a much longer period of time, often on regular runs that last a year or more. Plus, with well-run staffing companies, you get the luxury of being able to decide when and where you want to work. You can choose your schedule so that you get more time at home, more weekends off, and the ability to take care of your family while working full-time. They should also care about your safety and should be proud to show you their safety record.

At TransForce, we find out what YOUR dream assignment is and match you to a great run. Qualified CDL drivers can find rewarding job opportunities with TransForce Driver Staffing Solutions.