How to Get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

April 4, 2024

Team ACV




How to Get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

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If you’re an aspiring truck driver, you likely know that you’ll need to apply for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to comply with regulations set in place. The process entails various rules and regulations, so if you’re wondering how to get a CDL, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will explain the CDL license types and all of the CDL license requirements so you can get started on your path to driving professionally.  

What Is a CDL? 

A Commercial Driver’s License is essential for anyone in the United States who will need to operate large vehicles and machinery or transport large cargo. There are tests and requirements that you must pass in order to get the license.1 Additionally, there are three classes of CDLs available, as outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are the following: 

  • Class A: Combination Vehicles. These have a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds or more (whichever is higher) when the towed vehicle is more than 10,000 pounds. This includes tractor-trailers, flatbeds, and livestock carriers. 
  • Class B: Heavy Straight Vehicles. These also have a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more, but the towing vehicle weighs less than 10,000 pounds. This may include school buses or dump trucks with trailers. 
  • Class C: Small Vehicles. If a vehicle doesn’t match the description of Class A or B but transports more than 16 passengers, or hazardous material, then it is a Class C vehicle. 2

When considering how to get a CDL, the first step is to determine which type of license fits your needs. From there,  follow the steps outlined below. 

5 CDL License Requirements 

1. Obtain Your State’s CDL Manual 

Each state has varied requirements when it comes to the CDL process, so you’ll want to start by getting up to speed on what is required of you. These manuals can be found at the in-person office location or downloaded on the website.3 

2. Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)

This is a driving permit that allows you to practice on the road when accompanied by someone with a CDL. The permit process has its own set of requirements which we outline here.3

This process will require paperwork, so make sure you gather the following documents that you will need to embark on the path toward getting a CDL: 

  • Non-commercial license issued by your state. 
  • Proof that you are at least 18 for intrastate CDL or 21 for interstate. 
  • Proof of citizenship or lawful residency, such as a social security card or birth certificate. 
  • Pass background checks. 
  • A list of states where you’ve been licensed to drive in the past ten years. 
  • No license suspensions or revocations. 
  • Not subject to any disqualifications under FMCSA regulations. 
  • Not having a driver’s license in more than one state. 
  • Speak and read English in order to take the exam.2 

3. Entry-Level Driver Training 

Anyone applying for a Class A or B license must complete this training with a registered provider before beginning the testing phase. This is a federal requirement, but some states may have their own individual additional requirements that you will need to meet. You can find a provider by using this registry3.

4. Get a Medical Exam

For anyone planning to apply for a Class A license driving interstate, there is a medical requirement, and you will have to have an exam with proof through a Medical Examiner’s Certificate. The exam must be completed by someone registered within the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and the Certificate will need to be presented in order to take the CDL test.2

5. Take the CDL Exam

This is the last step of the CDL license requirements. After the entry-level driver training is complete, you can officially apply for your CDL as long as you’ve had your CLP for more than 14 days. This will include a vehicle inspection test, basic controls text, and road test. Individual states may also require vision tests, skills tests, or written tests in addition to the standard requirements.2

After  finishing the test, you will need to bring all of your documents to the counter to process your final licensing.3  

Register With ACV Transportation to Get Driving Jobs

Once you have met all CDL license requirements and are ready to go, register with us at ACV Transportation to get access to driving opportunities. We have a network across the U.S. transporting vehicles for car dealerships all over the nation. Our drivers benefit from having access to thousands of new loads daily, easy and reliable contact with dedicated Account Managers, and a quick pay timeline. Get started and learn more today. 


  1. Driving Tests. “How to get a Commercial Driver License in 2024.” Driving tests. Retrieved March 22, 2024. 
  2. TruckStop. 2024. “How to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).” TruckStop. Retrieved March 22, 2024. 
  3. FMCSA. “How do I get a Commercial Driver’s License?” FMCSA. Retrieved March 22, 2024.