Your Guide to Obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

Welcome to the world of commercial driving! A CDL opens doors to exciting career opportunities, allowing you to operate a variety of large vehicles and transport goods or people across the country. This page provides a comprehensive guide to obtaining your CDL, from understanding its purpose to navigating the step-by-step process.


A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is your ticket to operating big rigs and buses. It’s a step up from a regular license, requiring written tests and skills demonstrations to prove you can safely handle these hefty vehicles. CDLs are mandatory for any vehicle exceeding 26,001 pounds, transporting 16+ passengers, or carrying hazardous materials. Earning a CDL can open doors to well-paying careers in transportation and logistics.


CDLs offer rewarding careers with good salaries and benefits. The demand for skilled commercial drivers is high, making it a great field to enter. Here are some of the benefits:


Obtaining a CDL involves several steps, but with dedication and preparation, you’ll be cruising down the road towards your new career in no time!

Meet the Requirements
  • Age: Minimum age requirements vary by state, but typically range from 18 to 21 years old for intrastate commerce and 21 for interstate commerce.
  • Vision: You must pass a vision screening to meet the visual acuity standards for commercial drivers.
  • Driving Record: A clean driving record with minimal traffic violations is preferred.
  • Medical Fitness: You’ll need to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam to certify your fitness for operating a CMV.
Obtain Your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
  • Knowledge Tests: Pass the CDL general knowledge test and any endorsement-specific knowledge tests required for your desired vehicle type (e.g., school bus, tanker). We’ve got you covered! Take practice tests for the CDL knowledge exams
  • Application and Fees: Visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to apply for the CLP and pay any associated fees.
Get Behind-the-Wheel Training
  • Enroll in a CDL Training Program: Consider enrolling in a CDL training program to gain hands-on experience under the guidance of qualified instructors. These programs can help you master vehicle operation, practice maneuvers, and refine your safe driving skills.
  • Practice with a Licensed Driver: The CLP allows you to practice driving a CMV with a licensed CDL holder for the specific type of vehicle you want to operate.
Complete online course Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)

Laying the groundwork for a successful career behind the wheel starts with Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). This federally mandated program ensures all new commercial drivers receive a solid foundation in safe driving practices. It's not just about learning how to handle a larger vehicle, but also mastering defensive maneuvers, understanding regulations like hours of service, and being able to identify and address potential mechanical issues. Completing your ELDT online offers incredible flexibility. You can learn at your own pace, revisit sections you need to solidify, and access the materials from any device with an internet connection. This online convenience allows you to focus on what matters most: acquiring the knowledge and skills to become a safe and confident commercial driver.

Pass the CDL Skills Test

Once you've completed your training and feel confident, schedule your CDL skills test with the DMV. The test typically consists of three parts:

  • Pre-Trip Inspection: Demonstrate your ability to thoroughly inspect the CMV for any mechanical problems before operating it.
  • Basic Controls Test: This test assesses your ability to handle the vehicle in a controlled environment, such as a closed course.
  • Road Test: This test evaluates your driving skills on public roads, including maneuvers like backing up, changing lanes, and navigating traffic.

By following these steps and utilizing the resources available, you'll be well on your way to obtaining your CDL and embarking on a fulfilling career as a commercial driver. Remember, safe driving is paramount in this profession. Always prioritize safety and adhere to all traffic regulations. Good luck!