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7 steps on how to get your CDL

A truck driver who has followed the seven steps on how to get a CDL, drives down the road.
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October 22, 2020

One of the steps to becoming a truck driver is obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Getting your CDL requires meeting requirements, graduating from trucking school, having behind-the-wheel experience and more.

Follow the below step-by-step process on how to get your CDL.

How to get your CDL

1. Pass the age requirements.

Most states allow you to obtain a CDL at the age of 18. However, most trucking companies only hire drivers who are 21 years or older so that they can drive across state lines.

2. Get a CLP.

A commercial learner’s permit (CLP) enables you to practice driving semi-trucks. Some truck driving schools require you to have a CLP prior to starting their course, while others include obtaining the permit during the course.

Figure out what truck driving school you are going to attend and determine when you need to get your CLP.

3. Attend a CDL program.

To earn a CDL, you will have to attend a truck driving school or a community college. Trucking school programs typically lasts about three weeks, while a program at a community college usually lasts about six weeks.

Your CDL program will consist of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training.

Schneider offers options to help cover the cost of CDL training:

  • Tuition Reimbursement: We’ll reimburse your tuition if you start driving for Schneider within 12 months of earning your CDL.
  • Company-Sponsored CDL Training: Get paid CDL training plus a reserved job at Schneider after you get your CDL.
  • CDL Apprenticeship Training (CAT) program: Get paid on-the-job training before taking your CDL test.

Learn more about these programs and discover other options. 

4. Pass a knowledge exam and skills test.

The knowledge exam is online and tests what you know about commercial driving based on the CDL manual. The skills test consists of three portions: vehicle inspection, basic controls and a road test.

5. Have the necessary documentation.

The documentation required to obtain a CDL may vary by state, but be prepared to show proof of a:

  • Valid non-commercial driver’s license.
  • Social security card or social security number.
  • Birth certificate or unexpired U.S. passport.
  • Green card (if you are not an American citizen).

6. Pass a background screen and undergo a physical.

To obtain a CDL, you will be required to pass a DOT medical exam. Read about the six ways to ensure you pass your truck driver physical so you can start preparing now.

You will also be required to pass all applicable background screens.

7. Be aware of any additional requirements.

Some states have additional requirements and restrictions such as felony restrictions. Check your state’s CDL requirements for more information.

Ready to take your first step to becoming a truck driver?

Although Schneider does not have a truck driving school, we do hire graduates from hundreds of schools across the country. Find a truck driving school in your area and get enrolled.

About the author
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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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