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How Do I Get Class B CDL?

Updated: Mar 12

Class B CDL

Commercial driving has its own allure: the call of the open road, the appeal of flexible hours, and the joy of exploring new places. Among various types of commercial driving, holding a Class B Commercial Driver's License (CDL) offers a unique set of opportunities. The Class B CDL permits you to operate vehicles such as straight trucks, large buses, segmented buses, box trucks, dump trucks with small trailers, and more. But how do you get a Class B CDL? Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this journey.

Understand the Basics

Before you decide to pursue a Class B CDL, it's crucial to understand what it entails. This license is a credential that allows you to operate single vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds. In layman terms, this could include city buses, tour buses, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks among others.

1. Meet the Basic Requirements

First and foremost, you need to fulfill the basic requirements to be eligible for a Class B CDL. The requirements may slightly vary from state to state, but generally, you need to:

  • Be at least 21 years old (18 to 20 years old for intrastate driving)

  • Have a valid driver's license

  • Have a clean driving record

  • Pass a physical examination required by the Department of Transportation (DOT)

2. Take an Online Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) Course

Before you can obtain a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP), you need to complete an FMCSA-approved Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) course. This online course provides the foundational knowledge required to safely operate a commercial vehicle. Upon completion, you'll receive your ELDT certificate, which is a prerequisite for obtaining a CLP.

3. Obtain the Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP)

After completing your ELDT course, you can now apply for your CLP. This involves studying for a written knowledge test. The test usually includes sections on general knowledge, air brakes (if applicable), and the particular type of vehicle you plan to drive.

You can study for this exam using a CDL manual, which can typically be obtained either online or from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Many states also offer online practice tests.

4. Get Hands-on Training

After obtaining your CLP, it's time to get behind the wheel. While it's not mandatory in every state, enrolling in a professional CDL training school can significantly improve your driving skills and make the road to your Class B CDL much smoother. These schools offer programs specifically tailored to Class B CDL, where you will learn everything from driving techniques to vehicle maintenance, safety protocols, and more.

5. Pass the CDL Driving Test

The final step towards obtaining your Class B CDL is to pass the CDL driving test. This test includes both a pre-trip vehicle inspection and a driving skills test.

In the pre-trip vehicle inspection, you'll be asked to demonstrate knowledge of your vehicle and its operation, ensuring it's safe to drive.

In the driving skills test, you'll be tested on various on-road maneuvers such as turning, backing up, and navigating intersections or traffic.

6. Obtain Endorsements (Optional)

While not a requirement, you may choose to get endorsements on your CDL. These additional certifications allow you to operate specific types of vehicles or carry certain types of cargo. For Class B CDL holders, popular endorsements include school bus (S), passenger (P), and Hazmat (H). Each endorsement requires passing a specific knowledge test, and some also require a skills test.

Embark on Your Class B CDL Journey Today

Getting a Class B CDL can be a challenging yet rewarding process. However, it is the key to unlocking a variety of job opportunities in commercial driving. Take the first step today: get familiar with your state's specific requirements and start preparing for your ELDT course. Your career in commercial driving awaits!

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