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Should I Get a Class A or B CDL?


Choosing between a Class A and Class B Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a crucial decision for aspiring commercial truck drivers. Both licenses open doors to various opportunities, but they come with distinct differences in terms of the types of vehicles you can operate, job prospects, and additional endorsements. Let's dive into the technical differences and the types of jobs each license can secure for you.


Technical Differences


Class A CDL

A Class A CDL allows you to operate a combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the towed vehicle weighs more than 10,000 pounds. This license covers:

  • Tractor-trailers (e.g., 18-wheelers, big rigs)

  • Truck and trailer combinations

  • Tanker vehicles

  • Livestock carriers

  • Flatbeds


The versatility of a Class A CDL makes it the most comprehensive and sought-after license for commercial truck drivers. It enables you to drive a wide range of commercial vehicles, often leading to higher-paying jobs and long-haul routes.


Class B CDL

A Class B CDL allows you to operate a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, or a combination of vehicles where the towed vehicle does not exceed 10,000 pounds. This license is ideal for:

  • Straight trucks

  • Large buses (e.g., school buses, city buses)

  • Segmented buses

  • Box trucks (e.g., delivery trucks)

  • Dump trucks with small trailers


While a Class B CDL is less versatile than a Class A, it still provides access to a wide range of jobs, particularly in urban and regional settings.


Types of Jobs


Class A CDL Jobs

  1. Over-the-Road (OTR) Trucking: These long-haul drivers transport goods across the country, often covering thousands of miles each week.

  2. Regional Trucking: These drivers operate within a specific region, allowing for more home time compared to OTR drivers.

  3. Tanker Hauling: Transporting liquids and gases, which often requires additional endorsements but offers higher pay.

  4. Flatbed Trucking: Carrying oversized or irregularly shaped loads that need to be secured and tarped.


Class B CDL Jobs

  1. Local Delivery: Driving box trucks or straight trucks to deliver goods within a city or region.

  2. Bus Driving: Operating school buses, city transit buses, or tour buses.

  3. Dump Truck Driving: Hauling construction materials to and from job sites.

  4. Utility Work: Operating service trucks for utility companies or municipal services.


Additional Endorsements

Both Class A and B CDL holders can enhance their qualifications with additional endorsements, such as:

  • Hazardous Materials (H): For transporting hazardous materials.

  • Passenger (P): For driving passenger vehicles like buses.

  • Tanker (N): For hauling liquid or gaseous materials in bulk.

  • Double/Triple Trailers (T): For pulling multiple trailers (Class A only).


Starting Your Journey

To start your journey toward obtaining a Class A or B CDL, you'll need to complete the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). You can find comprehensive ELDT programs for both Class A and B licenses at CDL Expert. These programs cover essential topics such as vehicle weight rating, Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection, driving skills, and maintaining a good driving record.


Conclusion

Deciding between a Class A and B CDL depends on your career goals and the types of vehicles you wish to operate. A Class A CDL offers greater versatility and the potential for higher earnings, while a Class B CDL provides ample opportunities for local and regional work. Whichever path you choose, ensure you get the proper training and endorsements to maximize your career prospects in the world of commercial motor vehicles.

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