The United States economy depends on truckers to do more than just get from Point A to Point B in a safe manner. Truckers are essential to anything from keeping grocery store shelves stocked to completing construction and infrastructure projects. Because trucks are everywhere, so are employment opportunities. The only requirement is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Drivers can obtain three basic classifications. What additional endorsements you may need depends on what items are being transported. These endorsements are subject to additional testing. The more specialized, the more money a driver could potentially earn.
The Texas Department of Public Safety defines the CDL types as:
A Class A CDL enables the holder to operate a combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the weight rating of the towed vehicles is more than 10,000 pounds. This type of license is mandatory for driving heavy-duty equipment such as single-axle dump trucks with attached trailers, heavy-duty tractors with hydraulic tail trailers, and bulk feed trailers.
A Class B CDL allows the holder to operate a single vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more or tow a vehicle not exceeding 10,000 pounds GVWR. Additionally, it permits the operation of any vehicle intended for the transportation of 24 or more passengers, including the driver. However, if the skills test is completed in a bus weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR, the license holder will be restricted to operating buses under that weight. This license type is necessary for operating medium and heavy-duty trucks, such as water trucks, rollbacks, and hydraulic tail trucks.
A Class C CDL authorizes the holder to operate a single vehicle or combination of vehicles that do not fall under the Class A or B category. This license permits the operation of vehicles designed to transport 16 to 23 passengers, including the driver or vehicles used for transporting hazardous materials that require the vehicle to be placarded. Placard equipment, such as vacuum trucks, would require a Class C CDL. Endorsements may be necessary for transporting hazardous materials.
A Commercial Driver License Permit (CLP) must be obtained and activated for at least 14 days before taking CDL skills exams. CLPs are required of drivers applying for CDLs for the first time, upgrading their CDLs to another class, or adding passenger/school bus endorsements to their CDLs.
A driver must attend an approved Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) program to complete the initial CDL requirements. Programs under the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) meet the required Commercial Truck Driving training guidelines. TWC has a complete list of programs available, tuition costs, and class of vehicle covered.
While CDL grants and tuition assistance programs are available to cover training expenses, many trucking companies provide tuition reimbursement for a Class A CDL. Therefore, having a CDL more than pays for itself; it is an investment in a career that could go anywhere.