CDL Class A - Questions We Are Often Asked
If you're currently exploring truck driving as your future career, the first step is in getting the proper license. In this FAQ, we'll talk about the Class A CDL, a classification of commercial driver's license that comes with high earning potential and many opportunities for growth. Here's what you need to know if you're thinking about getting the Class A CDL for yourself.
1. What is a Class A CDL?
CDL stands for Commercial Driver's License. A CDL is a special license that you must have to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), such as a big rig semi-truck. CDL holders have special training to operate larger vehicles and are held to a higher standard than standard driver license holders. CDL licenses are divided into three categories: A, B and C.
Class A CDLs allow the license holder to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater, including a towed unit (or units)with weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).
2. What are the minimum requirements/qualifications for a class A CDL?
The minimum requirements to drive a CDL include:
- Be at least 21 years of age.
- Can speak and read English satisfactorily to:
- Converse with the general public;
- Understand traffic signs and signals;
- Respond to official questions; and
- Make legible entries on reports and records.
- Can drive the vehicle safely.
- Is physically qualified to perform all duties of a driver.
- Has a valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license.
- Can pass a driver’s road test or equivalent.
3. How much does a CDL A license cost to obtain?
Getting your CDL is a multi-step process, and depending on how you do it, there may be many fees along the way. The learner's permit application (CLP) fee, commercial driver's license application fee, CDL endorsement fees, written test fee, skills test fee and the fee for getting the license itself can all add up over time. All in all, you could spend as much as $1,000 on state fees just getting your license and permits, and as much as another $8,000 just to take the training. CDL fees vary a lot from state to state, so find out how much the fees will cost on the chart featured on this page.
If you get your CDL A license through Roehl, you can save a lot of money. Roehl's Get Your CDL Paid Training Program can save you a lot of money, and if you qualify for the program, you’ll even be paid while you are obtaining the skills to test for your Class A CDL.
4. How long will it take to obtain my CDL (training included)?
How long it takes you to obtain your class A CDL depends on many factors including what state you're in, whether you're taking classes full-time or part-time and how many endorsements you're trying to obtain. Some programs spend time teaching how to get your CLP, which will just increase how long it takes to actually get your CDL A.
In Roehl’s on the job Class A CDL program, you already have your permit, so the program takes about three weeks to complete. Keep in mind that in order to get your permit, you'll be required to complete a medical exam that Roehl will help schedule, so this also depends on how long you take to see your doctor.
Once the training is complete, you'll take the CDL road skills test. Most states require the tests to be scheduled 48 hours in advance (Roehl’s program takes care of these scheduling this for you).
Some people take many months to get their CDL, but bare minimum, plan to take about a month to obtain your CDL class A.
5. Do I need to pass a test to obtain a Class A CDL?
Yes, you'll need to pass a skills (road) test. The road test includes a pre-trip inspection test and a basic vehicle control test with a test administrator. It’s also important to know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) mandate that established a uniform national benchmark to ensure all new drivers have the same safety skills regardless of their licensed state, the school or CDL training program where they learned to drive.
Before you can take the CDL road skills test, you’ll need three things:
- You must complete an approved ELDT theory content course (35 Chapters) with a score of 80% or higher and those results must be entered in the Training Provider Registry (TPR).
- You must have an approved training provider record and enter your “Behind-The-Wheel Range” training hours in the TPR.
- You must have an approved training provider record and enter your “Behind-The-Wheel Road” training hours in the TPR.
Roehl is a registered training provider on the Training Provider Registry, and Roehl Transport will help you complete all three.
You can learn more about Entry Level Driver Training and what it means when getting your class A CDL.
6. What are the physical qualifications needed to hold a Class A CDL?
Before you can obtain a Class A CDL, you'll be required to pass a physical examination that proves you have the physical ability to drive safely. A vision test and hearing test are both a part of the physical qualifications. Your vision test must prove that you have at least 20/40 vision in each eye. Corrective lenses can be used to obtain proper vision for driving.
In addition, you'll need to pass a urinalysis to screen for conditions like pre-diabetes, and you'll also need to go through blood pressure/heart rate screening. Other conditions that your physician will look for include kidney disease, sleep apnea, stroke, epilepsy, chronic pain and so on.
Note that the urinalysis is not a drug screening test. Drug screening tests are typically administered by employers.
7. How much can I haul if I hold a class A CDL?
The class A CDL is needed if you are pulling a trailer over 10,000 pounds.
8. How much can I expect to earn as a Class A CDL holder?
How much you can expect to earn as a Class A CDL holder depends on a lot of factors including experience, where you're working, what kind of endorsements you have and whether you're an owner/operator. The lowest 10% of truck drivers might earn $30,000 annually, but at a company like Roehl, even new drivers can soon be earning $60,000 annually.
Experienced drivers and top earners can make over $100,000 annually at Roehl, and drivers of some kinds of trucks, like flatbed trucks, can earn even more.
And, Roehl drivers get paid for a lot of extras that you can't get paid for with other companies.
- Tarping and Untarping (flatbed)
- Intermediate Stops
- Detention Time
- Hand Load or Unload (95% of our van loads are no-touch)
- Layover Day
- Placard Load Premium
- Secondary Load
Roehl also provides a huge range of employee benefits to drivers, including health, dental, employee assistance programs, life insurance, vision, and so on. Roehl even offers a wellness program. In other words, you can earn a lot as long as you choose the right company.
How can I learn more about driving with Roehl?
If you're interested in obtaining your Class A CDL with Roehl, complete the online application to get started with the process. A new career is waiting for you. Join Roehl Transport and be a leader with one of North America’s safest & most successful trucking companies.
Hear from others who’ve completed Roehl’s Get Your CDL On-the-Job Training Program.
From GYCDL testimonials to an award-winning Get Your CDL Driver Chronicles video series, Roehl drivers are known for their professionalism, and you can hear from others about their experiences. Want to know even more? Subscribe to Roehl’s podcast and listen to drivers, other Roehl teammates and leaders, including CEO Rick Roehl.