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Driving a truck is a great way to make a good living and provide for yourself and your family. While each state has its own application process, all states have to comply with the federal regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA regulates the requirements for commercial drivers across the nation.

Here are some of the basic federal eligibility guidelines to obtain your CDL license:

  • Age
    • Must be 21 years old to drive across state lines and to use your vehicle to transport hazardous materials.
  • No Priors
    • Certain criminal felonies can disqualify you from obtaining your CDL


Commercial Learner’s Permit

FMSCA requires all CLP applicants to provide the following:

  • Current driver’s license
  • 10- year driving history
    • This can be done electronically in a state’s system or you may have to bring in a copy of your driving record, depending on your state.
  • Medical Exam self-certification form
    • Certifies physical ability to operate a commercial vehicle from a qualifying medical examiner
    • Details to self-certify can be found here:  Self-Certification FAQs.
  • Pass a knowledge and skills test that may vary by state, but meet minimum federal requirements
    • 30 questions minimum
    • Passing score of 80% or more
  • Pay associated fees that will vary by state


Federal Requirements for CDL Application

  • Test for and obtain commercial driver’s learning permit (CLP)
  • Hold your CLP for 14 days minimum (your state may require longer)
  • Pass the road skills test for your CDL
  • Any endorsements for your CDL that may require you to have additional knowledge and road skills exams


Commercial Driver’s License Test

You must satisfy the above requirements and practice on the road with a driver who has a CDL license to apply for your CDL.

  • Provide vehicle for your skills test that is the same type that you plan to drive in once licensed
  • Pass CDL skills test in 3 parts
    • Vehicle inspection
    • Basic controls exam
    • Road test


Additional CDL Endorsements & Waivers

Additional endorsements include tank vehicles, passenger vehicles or school buses as well as carrying hazardous materials.


If you are a military veteran with experience driving military vehicles it is possible to have your CDL skills test waived. For more information regarding this visit: Veterans CDL Skills Test Waiver page.


Other industries that might exclude you from some of the CDL requirements include:

  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical
  • Farming
  • Workers removing ice and snow

Contact your local commercial driver licensing office for details within these industries.


State Specifications

If you need to check your state-specific information you can do so here: commercial driver license guide.


Transporting equipment, food, and many other goods is a fantastic way to help our nation and provide a living. While there are a few hoops to jump through it is a worthwhile endeavor. If you choose to drive over the road you will see the country, on a local level you will be able to make a bit more money if your given industry requires a higher skill level. Either way, you will be glad you did it.