Ultimate Truckers Guide: How Long Does it Take to Get a CDL?

how-long-does-it-take-to-get-a-cdl-1

If you wonder how long does it take to get a CDL, let me take that question off your plate and give you 101 lesson on what is a CDL? Also, I’ll go over why and when you need CDL, and what you can do with it!

So, the Commercial Driver License (CDL) is a license that you need if you are planning to become a commercial truck driver and start your adventure on the open roads! It is a proof that you are able to operate heavy-duty trucks, Class 8 trucks as well as most other special commercial vehicles, like a passenger bus, flatbed, dump truck, tractor-trailer truck, or even a concrete mixer.

Source: Youtube

Source: Youtube

Once you have your CDL, you can start a career in the trucking world and become an OTR truck driver. However, you’ll have to be a rookie truck driver for a while!

As far as I know, the question how long does it take to get a CDL is answered differently every time you click on a different source on the web.

If three people are sitting at a truck stop, speaking about how long does it take to get a CDL, you’ll get three different answers.

One will say seven weeks max, while the other will say that is three times that much! However, the third person seated with them will say that both of them are only partially right and all you need is two weeks!

The sad truth of the matter is they are all correct. So, go figure that out how long does it take to get a CDL!

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. What matters right now is to go to the core basics of a CDL. Then later I will try as best as I can to answer the question: how long does it take to get a CDL?

Source: www.auto.edu

Source: www.auto.edu

So, how long does it take to get a CDL, and how much time you will need to commit to a CDL program, will depend on few things including which state you live in or planning to work in.

Source: www.rtdstruckingschool.com

Source: www.rtdstruckingschool.com

One thing is sure though! No matter which state you are planning to operate, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it’s who regulates the rules and requirements for commercial drivers across our great country.

Now, each state has its own additional requirements and processes but all states must comply with the federal requirements set forth by the FMCSA.

Source: Youtube

Source: Youtube

If you are looking into how long does it take to get a CDL, then you probably know already that there are some basic federal eligibility requirements needed to obtain a CDL license. But in case you don’t know or need a reminder, I will go over them again for you.

The federal requirements state that you must be 21 years old too:

  • Drive across state lines, or
  • Operate a vehicle containing hazardous materials;

Furthermore, you should not have prior disqualifying criminal offenses because certain criminal felonies may disqualify you from CDL eligibility.

Source: www.learningcc.org

Source: www.learningcc.org

Federal CDL Application Requirements

Of course, there are as well some basic steps required by the state where you are applying, regulated in accordance with FMCSA, in order to receive a commercial learner’s permit and a commercial driver’s license.

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They are as follows:

  • Test for and obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP);
  • Hold your CLP for a minimum of 14 days;
  • Take the road skills test for your commercial driver’s license (CDL);

If you want some additional endorsements on your CDL like example HAZMAT, you may be required to have some additional knowledge and road skills exams.

Source: www.cdltrining.org

Source: www.cdltrining.org

When it comes to the Commercial Learner’s Permit, in addition to any state-specific forms, tests, and citizenship documents, the FMCSA will require from you:

Your current driver’s license;

  • A 10-Year Driver History;
  • A Medical Examination self-certification form;
  • To pass knowledge and skills test where minimum federal requirements require: Minimum of 30 questions and passing score of at least 80%;
  • Pay the associated fees;

Keep in mind that you’re required to hold your CLP for at least 14 days before applying for your full commercial driver’s license.

Source: www.cdlmichigan.com

Source: www.cdlmichigan.com

After the 14 days with your CPL, where you fulfill the requirements and had a practice on the road with a qualified driver, now you can finally apply for your Commercial Driver’s License.

Prior to applying, federal rules are saying that you must:

  • Hold your CPL for at least 14 days;
  • Provide a vehicle for your skills test (the same type that you plan to test for and drive once licensed);
  • Pass the CDL skills test, which consists 3 parts including vehicle inspection, basic controls exam and road test;

In some cases you might be asked to complete a CDL training course, so again the question how long does it take to get a CDL it’s a hard question to answer!

What is the Average Length of a CDL Program?

Just like your buddies at the bar said earlier, CDL training program tends to run a variety of lengths. This will depend on where the school is, who is conducting, the reputation of the program, and other factors.

So how long does it take to get a CDL? Be patient, I am almost there.

Source: www.carinsurance.arrivealive.co.za

Source: www.carinsurance.arrivealive.co.za

Based on the average time (looking at a private driving school, colleges, training programs), you could be looking at 7 weeks to get your Class A CDL. Now, like I said this really depends on the program.

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Another factor to consider is that from the time you register to the time you physically have your license in hand could be this long, or it could be longer.

Now if you do not want the Class A and are going to settle for a Class B well the time is shorter. But, keep in mind you can’t legally drive a semi-truck with a Class B, but you can get it in less time. Some places are half the time.

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