Truck drivers are a vital part of our economy, but they need to be trained and licensed before getting behind the wheel.
To become a professional truck driver, you need a CDL class A permit, otherwise known as a CLP (Commercial Learner’s Permit). The process for obtaining your first CDL permit is straightforward but can be confusing for inexperienced drivers who don’t know where to start.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of the process. At DRC, we are committed to helping people find lucrative in the truck driving industry. Hopefully, this easy-to-follow guide will help you create a rewarding truck driving career.
What is a CDL permit?
A CDL Permit is a temporary license that allows you to practice driving a commercial vehicle. You need a CDL permit to drive a commercial vehicle, even if you have your regular driver’s license.
A CDL permit differs from a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The permit is used solely for training purposes, while the CDL will be used when you are hired by an employer and begin working for a company.
Who Needs a CDL Permit?
Anyone looking to drive commercial vehicles for hauling passengers, freight, hazardous material, or other equipment must have a CDL license when that load is over a certain weight.
Just like you needed a learner’s permit to obtain a regular driver’s license for your family vehicle, you need a CDL learner’s permit to train for your CDL credentials.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL Permit?
The cost of a CDL permit varies by state. The price of your permit depends on the fee your state charges for licensing. Some states will even waive the fee entirely if you apply online or there is a massive demand for new drivers.
Most states have a fee of less than $20, but you should always check your local Department of Transportation websites to learn more. Or you can contact our team at DRC, and we will point you in the right direction.
How to Obtain a CDL Permit?
You must be 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. You must also meet the CLP age requirements, which vary by state. Your state’s CDL manual will tell you if you need to complete an additional DOT physical exam before starting your training course.
Selecting what type of CLP you want is another crucial step toward getting your permit. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the different steps to achieving your CLP.
Step 1: Meet the Minimum Requirements
To become a commercial driver with a CLP permit, you must meet the following CDL permit requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age (some states or companies require 21 years minimum)
- Already have a non-commercial driver’s license
- Be a US citizen, or provide proof of lawful residency (birth certificate, passport, right to work, social security number, etc.)
- Some states may require a background check regarding your driving history.
- Pass a DOT physical
Step 2: Pick Up a Copy of Your State CDL Instruction Manual
A CDL manual is a book that outlines all the requirements for getting your commercial driver’s license. You can either go to the DMV or it may also be available online.
Step 3: Choose a CLP Type
Decide what type of CLP you want: Your state may offer distinct types of permits, including a class A or B license and endorsements such as school bus driver or tank vehicle.
Once you know what kind of endorsement to get, you can apply for an examination specific to that endorsement.
Step 4: Pass a DOT Physical
There’s no way around it: you’ll need to pass a DOT physical before you can get your permit. Once you’ve completed all other requirements, the DMV will mail you a letter with instructions on how to schedule an appointment at a DOT-approved facility. The cost of the physical may be included in your CDL permit fee.
The exam will cover things like vision, hearing, and drug use. It basically proves that you’re physically able to operate vehicles safely on public roads while carrying passengers or cargo.
Step 5: Apply for Your CLP
You will need to apply for a CLP at the DMV. Most states require this, and you can find out more about how to apply by checking the state’s DMV website. You will need to bring the following:
- Your state’s CDL manual
- Your DOT physical
- Proof of identity (e.g., passport or birth certificate)
Step 6: Take the CLP exam
After you have completed the requirements for your CDL permit, it’s time to take the exam.
The Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) exam is administered by the DMV and is typically given on a computer. Therefore, you will need to show proof of identification and provide your thumbprint when you arrive at the test location so that they can verify that you are who they think you are before taking their tests. The test is made up of three parts: General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles. You do not need to have a CLP before enrolling in CDL training. Part of your course will include CLP preparation.
How Long Will My CDL Permit Last?
While this can vary state by state, you should expect about 180 days of use out of your CLP. That should be plenty of time to finish a course or work with a business looking to bring you on full-time so you can obtain your CDL certification.
Getting a CDL Permit is a Key Step in Your Driving Career
Getting a CDL permit is the first step in starting your career as a truck driver. To be a truck driver, you’ll need to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). And if you want to get your CDL, getting a CDL permit is the first thing you should be working on.
Learning how to get a CDL permit shows you are motivated to start this new career and serious about finishing all the credentials and requirements so you can be on the road as soon as possible.
Our team at DRC has all the requirements and materials needed to help you achieve this critical first step. We collaborate with drivers all the time looking to build a rewarding career on the open road. So let’s schedule a time to talk and go over your unique pathway to securing a job as a truck driving expert.
We hope this article has helped you understand what it takes to get a CDL permit and how you can do so. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact us or any of our partners in the industry. We’re here to help!