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How to Get a CDL in Illinois


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Step-by-Step Guide to Your Commercial Driver's License

If you're considering a career in trucking, obtaining your Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is your first step. In Illinois, the process is straightforward but requires dedication and a clear understanding of the steps involved. Here's a detailed guide on how to get your CDL in Illinois.


Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirements

Before diving into the specifics, ensure you meet the following basic requirements:

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate (within Illinois) and 21 years old to drive interstate (across state lines).

  • Residency: You must be a resident of Illinois.

  • License: You need a valid Illinois non-commercial driver’s license.


Step 2: Obtain a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP)

To start, you'll need a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP). This permit allows you to practice driving under the supervision of a licensed CDL holder. Here’s how to get your CLP:

  1. Study for the Knowledge Test: The first step is to study for the written knowledge test. The Illinois Secretary of State provides a CDL Study Guide that covers all the information you'll need.

  2. Pass the Knowledge Test: Visit your local Secretary of State Facility to take the test. You’ll need to pass this to get your CLP.

  3. Apply for Your CLP: Once you pass the test, you can apply for your CLP. Make sure to bring the required documents, such as proof of identity, residency, and your Social Security number. You can find more information on the application process here.


Step 3: Complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)

New federal regulations require all CDL applicants to complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) before taking the CDL skills test. This training includes both theory and behind-the-wheel instruction. At CDL Expert, we offer comprehensive online ELDT theory training to help you meet this requirement efficiently and effectively.


Step 4: Complete Behind-the-Wheel Training

With your CLP and ELDT theory training completed, you need to enroll in behind-the-wheel training at a licensed training facility. This practical training is essential for gaining the hands-on experience required to handle a commercial vehicle safely and effectively. During this training, you will:

  • Practice driving under the supervision of a licensed instructor.

  • Learn various driving maneuvers and skills.

  • Gain confidence in handling different driving scenarios.

Make sure to choose a reputable training facility that meets the standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).


Step 5: Schedule and Pass the CDL Skills Test

After completing your ELDT and behind-the-wheel training, it’s time to take the CDL skills test. This test includes three parts: the pre-trip inspection, the basic controls test, and the road test.

  1. Schedule Your Test: Contact your local Secretary of State Facility to schedule your CDL skills test. Make sure to bring your CLP and proof of completing your ELDT.

  2. Pass the Test: On the day of the test, you’ll be evaluated on your ability to inspect the vehicle, control it through various maneuvers, and drive safely on the road.


Step 6: Obtain Your CDL

Once you pass the skills test, you’ll be issued a CDL. Congratulations! You’re now ready to start your career as a professional truck driver. Keep in mind that certain endorsements may be required depending on the type of commercial driving you plan to do, such as transporting hazardous materials or driving a school bus.


Helpful Resources


Final Thoughts

Getting your CDL in Illinois is a significant achievement that opens the door to a rewarding career in the trucking industry. By following these steps and utilizing the resources available, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and licensed commercial driver. Dedication and proper preparation are key to your success.

Ready to start your journey? Begin your ELDT theory training with us at CDL Expert today!

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