Navigating the Road to a Class B CDL

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Written By Randall Henson
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The commercial driving world is vast and varied. While many may be familiar with the iconic image of the long-haul trucker, there are many other opportunities in the industry. One such avenue is driving vehicles that require a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Whether you’re considering a career as a bus driver, delivery driver, or operating other medium-sized vehicles, obtaining your Class B CDL is your ticket to entry.

This guide will walk you through the steps and nuances of securing this license, ensuring you’re well-equipped to join the ranks of Class B commercial drivers.

What is a Class B CDL?

Before diving into the process, it’s essential to understand what a Class B CDL is. A Class B CDL allows you to operate single vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another not exceeding 10,000 pounds.

Typical vehicles that fall under the Class B category include:

  • Straight trucks
  • Buses, including city and school buses
  • Dump trucks
  • Delivery trucks
  • Cement mixers

Steps to Obtain a Class B CDL:

1. Determine Eligibility

First, ensure you meet the basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old (21 if you intend to drive interstate).
  • Have a valid driver’s license.
  • Pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination.

2. Gather Necessary Documentation

Before heading to your local DMV, prepare the following:

  • Proof of identity
  • Social Security Number
  • Residency documentation
  • Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate

3. Acquire the CDL Learner’s Permit

Before obtaining a CDL, you need to first get a CDL learner’s permit by:

  • Passing the general knowledge exam (and any additional tests for desired endorsements, like passenger or school bus).
  • Paying the appropriate fees.

Note: This permit allows you to practice driving the Class B vehicles under the supervision of a licensed CDL holder.

4. CDL Training and Practice

Though not mandatory in every state, attending a CDL training school can provide invaluable hands-on experience and knowledge. These schools typically offer:

  • Classroom instruction on federal laws, vehicle maintenance, and other essentials.
  • Behind-the-wheel training.

If not attending a school, ensure you get substantial practice driving under the supervision of an experienced CDL holder.

5. Schedule and Pass the Skills Test

Once you feel prepared and have met your state’s practice requirements:

  • Schedule your CDL skills test, which typically includes:
  • Pre-trip inspection
  • Basic vehicle control
  • On-road driving
  • Demonstrate your proficiency in each of these areas to earn your CDL.

6. Pay the CDL Issuance Fee

After successfully passing the skills test, you’ll be required to pay an issuance fee for your Class B CDL.

Consider Adding Endorsements

While you’re at it, you might consider adding endorsements to your CDL, which can open up even more job opportunities. For Class B, popular endorsements include:

  • P (Passenger): For driving vehicles like buses.
  • S (School Bus): Specifically for school bus drivers.
  • N (Tank): If you’re transporting liquid or gas.

Each endorsement may require additional testing.

Maintain Your CDL

Remember, holding a CDL is a responsibility. Regular medical exams, safe driving, and adhering to federal and state regulations will ensure you maintain your license and enjoy a long, fruitful career in commercial driving.


Acquiring a Class B CDL is a multi-step process, but with dedication, practice, and the right resources, it’s entirely within reach. Whether you’re looking to change careers, find a new opportunity, or simply expand your skill set, a Class B CDL can pave the way to a world of new possibilities on the road. Safe travels!

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