A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to become a truck driver. This federal requirement applies to vehicles built to transport nine or more passengers and that weigh 10,001 pounds or more.1 These have operational and physical demands, unlike other motor vehicles, regardless of, for example, the types of semi-truck seats used. Although the federal government maintains specific requirements, states issue their own licenses.


White Semi truck on bridgeWhite Semi truck on bridge


In 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed. Drivers could no longer have CDLs in multiple states, which could be used to hide bad driving records. Truck drivers must meet CDL license requirements, including passing written and knowledge exams, skill and road CDL license tests, and physical qualifications.


Obtaining a CDL at the State Level


Before 1986, the requirements varied from one state to the other. Thus, some truck drivers were not properly trained or qualified. The federal requirement covers all states and includes three classes.




Finding quality semi-truck seats for sale isn’t the only priority for drivers There are three main licensure classes, including:


  • Class A: To drive trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more and a towing capacity exceeding 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: For those driving vehicles rated at 26,001 pounds or more that don’t tow vehicles over 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C: For operators of vehicles, or combinations thereof, with a capacity for 16 or more passengers or for drivers of small hazardous materials vehicles.


Variations by State


There are slight differences among states. A CDL holder in New York can operate school buses, while anyone in California employed to drive must have a CDL (regardless of whether it’s a commercial vehicle). New Jersey law specifies anyone who operates a bus, van, or limousine must have a commercial license. See the Trucker Country website for more CDL requirements by state.


fat man driving truck


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  1. https://www.transforce.com/blog/do-i-need-a-cdl-to-get-a-job-as-a-truck-driver/


Commercial driver’s licenseState-required cdl license