Company Paid CDL Training – Company Sponsored CDL Training

So, you got that job you’ve been trying for. They agreed to pay for your commercial driver’s license training. But, you don’t know much about it. And, you don’t want to admit it.

Luckily, it is not difficult information to understand. And, it’s further simplified right here. Sounds good right? This is basic information about commercial driver’s licenses in a nutshell. Go into your testing prepared. Know what to expect because you read it here first.

Commercial Driver’s License: What Is It?

You need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) if you plan on driving a commercial vehicle. As you may expect, these are different than the average driver’s license for your car.

Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) include passenger buses, semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and dump trucks. If your new job requires you to be on the road, odds are you will be driving a commercial vehicle, and, if you do you will need a CDL.

These types of driver’s licenses divide into 3 classifications. Which type you need depends on what you plan on driving; there is no “one-size-fits-all” commercial driver’s license.

Classifications are determined by a variety of factors, such as vehicle weight. The number of passengers you intend to carry is another way to determine classification. And, lastly whether you plan on transporting hazardous material is yet another classification.

This may sound difficult to pinpoint at first. But, if you are going through an employer sponsored program, you don’t need to figure this out on your own. They already know exactly what you need.

If you are not going through a company-paid program, you will have to think long and hard about this. Look at the roads. Think of the work conditions. Narrow down which CMV you would prefer to drive.

How Do I Get One?

Now that you know what a CDL is, next you need to know how to obtain one. Typically, you go to your state department of motor vehicles office (DMV) and apply for one. But, there are a few rules and restrictions.

The minimum age to get a CDL is usually 21 years old. However, some states may make allowances and issue a single-state CDL. If a driver is between the ages of 18 and 20, they may be issued a special CDL that allows for commercial vehicle driving within their residential state. Not all states do this, though.

Barring that special circumstance, however, obtaining a CDL is like getting a regular driver’s license. You must pass both federal and state requirements for a CDL.

Aside from a CDL, you may also need special endorsements to drive certain vehicles. Vehicles that require special endorsements include:

  • Passenger vehicles
  • Trucks that carry hazardous materials
  • Trucks with a tank
  • Trucks with a double or triple trailer

Finally, it is important to remember that the state you live in issues the CDL, not the federal government. Both have their own regulations. But, state rules may differ slightly from state to state.

Information Recap

  • Minimum age is usually 21
  • Must pass both federal and state requirements
  • Issued from your state of residency
  • Need endorsements for certain vehicles
  • Rules differ between states, but in compliance with federal government

Different Types of CDLs

Now it’s time to go over the different CDL classifications. As previously mentioned, there are 3 types of CDLs.

Class A CDL

This is the type of license required to drive vehicles that have a GCWR (gross combination weight rating) of at least 26,001 pounds. This applies if the towed vehicle is over the 10,000 pounds.

You can drive the following vehicles with a Class A CDL:

  • Livestock carriers
  • Flatbeds
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Tank vehicles
  • Tractor trailers

In some instances, having the right endorsements for your Class A CDL may allow you to drive Class B and C vehicles.

Class B CDL

For this classification, the GCWR rating is the same as the Class A’s 26,001 pounds or more. The difference is a Class B requires the tow vehicle be less than 10,000 pounds.

Vehicles you can operate under a Class B CDL include:

  • Tractor trailers
  • Straight trucks
  • Dump trucks with small trailers
  • Large passenger buses
  • Segmented buses
  • Box trucks

In addition, if you have the right endorsements you may also drive some Class C vehicles.

Class C CDL

Class C CDL is more notable because you need it to drive vehicles with hazardous materials. This CDL is also for transporting 16 or more occupants. This number includes you as the driver.

The vehicles you can drive under a Class C CDL include:

  • Passenger vans of 16+ people
  • Small hazmat vehicles
  • Any vehicle combination not covered by Class A or B

Remember, along with the right CDL class, you also need the correct endorsements.

Information Recap

  • 3 CDL classifications
  • Class determined by weight of vehicle, number of passengers, and hazmat
  • Class determines CDL testing
  • Some classifications carry over with proper endorsements

Commercial Driver’s License Training Programs

You can find CDL training programs offered in your community. Sometimes they are through your local community college. But, more often they are individual, privately owned schools operating exclusively for CDL training.

The benefits and value of these programs varies. But, some states do require you pass a program before applying and testing for your CDL. And, they can be pricey.

More often, employers will sponsor new candidates in this endeavor. Training time can also vary but typically takes about six weeks to complete. This covers a combination of theory and application to prepare you for the CDL tests.

Information Recap

  • Some states require CDL training program completion
  • Offered through private trade schools and/or community colleges
  • Sometimes employee sponsored
  • Pricey
  • Covers knowledge and skills prep for testing

Steps to Getting Your CDL

The first thing you need to do is get a copy of the Commercial Driver’s Licensing Manual for your state. You can go in person to a field location. Or, download and print it from the official website. Additionally, you may also receive a copy from a CDL training program.

Next, you need to decide what type of vehicle you need licensing for. If you go to a company-sponsored CDL training program, you will already have this information. Otherwise, you need to narrow down what type of driving you will be doing.

Lastly, you need to figure out which tests to study for. Every type of CDL and endorsement has a skill test you need to pass. Additionally, you may also have to take written, or knowledge, tests.

If you do not pass your tests, you may have restrictions put on your license.

Information Recap

  • Obtain commercial driver’s licensing manual
  • Decide which CDL class you need
  • Study for your class and endorsements testing

Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)

After narrowing down your CDL type, and gathering your study materials, it’s time to get your commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

This driver’s permit is just like the one you probably had as a teenager; it’s for learning purposes. Similarly, it has certain restrictions for your safety and others on the road.

The CLP restricts your practice to public roads. You also must have another person with a CDL sitting next to you. These permits are typically valid for 180 days.

Aside from passing tests, to get your CLP you must also be eligible. Your driving record across all 50 states, and the District of Columbia is checked for the last decade.

You may also have to provide proof that you are medically qualified. Often commercial driving requires a DOT physical and DOT medical card. Examinations of this nature require you to see a Department of Transportation licensed examiner.

The medical exam certificates issued by DOT are good for up to 24 months. But, if you have a condition they would like to monitor, you will receive one for less than that time instead. High blood pressure is one example of this instance.

Additionally, you will also need documents to prove your name and residency. The accepted documents differ from state to state. And, there are fees for getting your CLP.

Information Recap

  • Valid for 180 days
  • Restricts training to public roads
  • Must have another CDL carrying person with you
  • Must pass 10-year check on driver’s record
  • Must provide appropriate medical qualifications
  • Must provide documentation for name and residency
  • Pay applicable fees for CLP

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

To take the skills test for your CDL, you must have your permit (CLP) for a minimum of 14 days prior. Sometimes a state may also require you complete CDL training before testing.

There are 3 parts to the skills test. They are:

  • Basic controls
  • Vehicle inspection
  • Road test

Each state makes up their own tests, but, they are in accordance with federal standards.

Each test for basic knowledge covers 20 general areas. And, they contain at least 30 items. If you were planning on driving a CMV with airbrakes that requires a separate test.

You must correctly answer a minimum of 80% of the questions to pass the knowledge tests. This includes both endorsement as well as general tests.

The skills test is a practical driving test. You will be asked to perform different skills, and, this has to be taken in the type of vehicle you plan on driving.

Occasionally, you can take part in third-party testing instead. This may include your employer if the state authorizes it. Certain conditions apply, though.

Finally, you may receive your CDL the same day as you take your test, although, some states prefer to send it in the mail instead.

Information Recap

  • Must have CLP minimum 14 days before applying for CDL
  • May have to complete CDL training program prior to applying, varies by state
  • 3 parts of skills testing
  • Must answer 80% of knowledge tests correctly, including endorsements
  • Skills testing in CMV

A Word About Endorsements and Restrictions

As mentioned previously, sometimes you need endorsements in addition to your CDL. For these special CMVs, you must pass additional tests. The endorsements for special CMVs are:

  • Passenger
  • Double/Triple Trailers
  • Tank vehicle
  • School bus
  • Hazardous materials
  • Combination hazardous materials and tank vehicle

Each endorsement requires a different test. This is in addition to the standard knowledge and skills testing for a CDL.

You may also receive up to 3 endorsements on your commercial learner’s permit (CLP). They are for passenger, school bus, and tank. The permit is only for training purposes though, so the normal restrictions for a CLP apply.

In addition, you may have restrictions placed on your CDL. Sometimes these restrictions reflect specific vehicle restrictions such as air brakes. Other times, it will be for a medical variance on your record.

Examples of CDL Restrictions Include

  • No full air brakes on vehicles
  • No manual transmissions
  • Class A CMVs with a fifth wheel connection
  • Other class CDLs that carry over for passenger CMVs

Information Recap

  • Endorsements required for special CMVs
  • Testing for each endorsement
  • 3 max endorsements on CLP
  • Restrictions for CMV specifics, medical, or class carry-over

Final Thoughts

Choosing to get your commercial driver’s license is a serious decision. You are held accountable to higher standards. And, the steps are not simple.

However, you can help yourself by going in prepared. Understand that it takes high skills and knowledge to get a CDL. And, a lot of training.

So, now that you know what you must do, it’s time to take that first step. Grab the Commercial Driver’s Licensing Manual from your state office. Read through it thoroughly.

Next, find out exactly what your state requires for CDL testing. You may have to enroll in a CDL training program. Or, your employer may have taken care of this for you.

Additionally, you must understand that this costs money at each juncture. So, figure out your personal financial standing before starting on this course, especially if an employer does not sponsor you.

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back. This training is not easy. But, once you finally get through all the testing, you will find it is extremely rewarding.