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A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a driver’s license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in the United States in commerce. There are several different types of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that require a driver to hold a valid commercial driver’s license.

Understanding the Different Classes of CDL Licenses: A, B, and C

Employers actively look for CDL drivers with one of these license classes, so we recommend you get the one you need before applying for your dream job. To drive certain specialized types of vehicles such as buses or tank trucks or carry hazardous materials, you must also apply for the proper endorsements on your CDL. Some of the endorsements include Passenger (P), allowing you to carry passengers; Tanker (T), allowing you to drive trucks containing liquid cargo; and H (Hazardous Materials), allowing you to drive trucks containing such hazardous materials as flammable liquids, explosives, or radioactive substances. To obtain an endorsement, you will need to pass a specialized knowledge exam and possibly a specialized driving skills test.

To obtain an H, P, or School Bus (S) endorsement, you must successfully complete training from FMCSA-approved training providers. To obtain an S endorsement, you must also undergo a thorough background check.

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CDL License Classes Overview

Type of LicenseDescriptionVehicles You May Drive
Class A CDLRequired to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds.Tractor-trailers (also known as Semi, Big Rig, or 18-wheeler), Truck and trailer combinations, Tanker vehicles, Livestock carriers, Flatbeds. Most Class B and Class C vehicles, depending on endorsement requirements.
Class B CDLRequired to operate any single vehicle that isn’t hitched to a trailer (commercial trucks that have an attached cab and cargo area with a combined weight greater than 26,000 pounds, as well as trucks with a detached towed cargo vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds).Straight trucks, Large buses (city buses, tourist buses, and school buses), Segmented buses, Box trucks (including delivery trucks and furniture trucks), Dump trucks with small trailers. Some Class C vehicles with the correct endorsements.
Class C CDLRequired to operate a single vehicle with GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds or a vehicle towing another vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds, or transports 16 or more passengers, including the driver.Double/Tripe Trailers, Buses, Tank Trucks, HazMat Vehicles.

Find out how to obtain the CDL Class or endorsement you need:

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