A Commercial driver's license (CDL) is necessary to drive for a number of jobs. These include being a limousine driver, a bus driver, a delivery truck driver and a semi driver. (A CDL is not necessary to drive farm equipment, emergency vehicles or snow removal vehicles.) Obtaining a CDL requires that you have a more in-depth knowledge of driving rules and safe practices than is necessary for a personal driver's license as well as the skills to safely operate your vehicle.
What is required to sit for the CDL test?
In order to qualify to take the CDL test with a company like Center For Transportation Safety, you have to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's license in the state where you are applying for a CDL. (These are the minimum requirements; individual employers may have higher standards.) The process of getting a CDL involves several different tests. There are a series of written tests, a driving skill test, a maneuverability and pre-inspection test. In addition, applicants must pass a basic vision test. There are additional endorsements available for drivers who will be carrying passengers and those who will be working with hazardous materials. As with your personal driver's license, you can also purchase a CDL learning permit, available by passing a single knowledge test, an have the right to drive a commercial vehicle while a CDL holder is in the passenger seat.
What is the CDL test like?
The CDL test is slightly different in each of the 50 U.S. states. However, there are some components that are common to all 50 tests. The knowledge tests are composed of around 100 multiple choice questions. Topics cover general road knowledge (often divided into two or three separate tests), an air brake test and a combination vehicles test. The skills and pre-insepction tests are administered by a state inspector and are timed tests.
Preparing for the CDL test
To help you get ready for the CDL test and improve your chances of passing the test, a number of companies offer sample tests and classroom or online instruction to help see how much knowledge you already have on the subject and to get you used to the test format. Many people fail standardized tests simply because they are confused by how the test is structured. Taking a CDL prep course can help take that type of confusion out of the equation and allow you to do your best when you sit down to take the actual test.