It's important to point out that each state may vary slightly in their requirements to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL). With that in mind, do check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV/MVD) to learn of any specific prerequisites you may have to meet in order to qualify. The minimum age to apply for a CDL is 18 and you can only drive intrastate loads, meaning you cannot cross state lines while transporting your load. An interstate truck driver can travel across state lines although there is a minimum age requirement of 21 years old to hold these during positions.
Next you'll want to obtain a copy of your state's CDL driving manual. There are also CDL training guide available with sample questions to help prepare for the examination.
There are 3 types of CDLs, including Class A, B and C. In addition particular driving jobs may require specific certifications or endorsements to qualify. Understanding the difference between the licenses will help determine the license you apply for. If you have a job lined up, confirm with your employer the proper license and endorsements you need.
Once you have decided the class of license you will need head to your local DMV/MVD to start the application process. You will need to submit your current and previous places of residence and any driver's licenses you may have been issued, including out of state. Identification and/or specified documents may be necessary to complete the application process including a DOT medical examination. When your application is complete and you have paid the necessary licensing fees, the DMV/MVD will do an extensive background check of your driving record. After your application has been approved you are ready to take the written portion of the exam. You can complete this exam at your local DMV/MVD.
When you have passed the written portion of the exam you will be issued a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP). A CLP allows you to begin practicing your driving skills on public roads. In order to do so you must have an equivalent licensed CDL driver with you at all times. During this time you can also finish up any additional testing or background checks that may be required for the state you are located or based on the types of cargo you will be transporting. Typically you will need to complete a specified number of hours of behind the wheel experience. Most states have a minimum of 14 days before you can take the driving skill portion of the CDL exam.
When you're ready and comfortable behind the wheel of the truck you are operating contact your local DMV/MVD to schedule a driving skill test. At this time you will have to perform the tasks required per the vehicle you will be operating. This typically includes pre-trip inspection, demonstration of overall operations of the vehicle and its' equipment as well as an on road driving test.
The licensed examiner will then issue you your license if you successfully complete the skill portion of the test. The DMV/MVD will then mail your license to you or request you pick it up in person. Thoroughly inspect your new license for accuracy. Congratulations! You are now ready to begin your new CDL driving job.