A Commercial Driver’s License or CDL is a special kind of license for those transporting large, heavy or hazardous materials in the United States. In addition to a CDL, drivers need special endorsements for the type of load they carry. If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver, make sure you understand what kind of license and endorsements you need.
There are three basic CDL classes – A, B and C. Each one allows you to drive a specific type of commercial vehicle. A Class A license generally covers tractor-trailers, tank vehicles, livestock carriers and flatbeds. In other words, the kinds of trucks that allow you to find loads that you haul from one place and drop it off in another.
A Class B license is needed to drive a passenger bus, segmented bus, box truck or dump truck. These vehicles are lighter than those in Class A. If you are interested in driving a bus route for a city, this is the type of license you need.
If you are a teacher, coach, youth minister or in-town delivery person, probably all you will need is a Class C license that covers passenger vans.
Adding additional endorsements to your license often requires additional tests. The H and N endorsements allow you to transport hazardous material or liquid or gas in a tank truck, respectively. If you want to drive a tanker with hazardous material, you’ll need the X endorsement. Trucks with double and triple trailers are driven by those with a T endorsement.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in mainly transporting people, consider the P endorsement which allows you to drive up to 16 people in your vehicle. Once you’ve successfully qualified for a P, you can take the test for the S endorsement which is necessary to operate a school bus.
Becoming a truck driver is not as simple as taking just one test. Research the type of rig you ultimately want to drive and begin working towards adding additional endorsements whenever you get the opportunity.