How to Get a Class B CDL - Steps and Requirements

Are you looking for a fulfilling career that offers abundant job opportunities and lucrative earning potential – including owning your own business? Look no further than obtaining your CDL (commercial driver's license). This credential can open doors to a world of possibilities. While Class A CDL holders tend to earn the highest salaries, many individuals start their journey with a Class B CDL. A Class B CDL can serve as a valuable steppingstone towards Class A employment, although it's not obligatory. In fact, it's entirely possible to obtain a Class A CDL without pursuing any other type of commercial licensure. If you are wondering what the differences between a Class B CDL and a Class A CDL are, why some people get a Class B CDL first and how can you move from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL, this information can help. And, if you're considering obtaining a Class B CDL, the following steps will guide you through the process. For much more detailed information on obtaining a Class A CDL, please refer to Roehl’s Steps to Get Paid While You Get Your CDL A.

1. Learn and Decide: What is a Class B CDL? Is a Class B CDL right for you?

A CDL is a type of license that allows you to drive a vehicle larger than the types of vehicles one can drive with a standard non-commercial driver’s license. A Class B CDL will license the individual to drive a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds, or a vehicle towing another vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. With a Class B CDL, you can typically drive a vehicle like a dump truck, school bus, public transit bus or a delivery truck. 

What Are the Requirements for a Class B CDL?

In order to have a Class B CDL, you must:

  • Have a non-commercial driver’s license
  • Earn a high school diploma
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Meet your state's age requirements
  • Meet health requirements defined by the Department of Transportation
  • Be able to pass the Class B CDL class and test

Class A Vs. Class B CDL

While it's typically easier to get a Class B CDL, the earning potential for a Class A CDL is much higher. Class B drivers make around $44,200 each year, while Class A drivers often earn significantly more, depending on what they drive and where. At Roehl, Class A CDL drivers who have at least one year of experience with Roehl make an average of $74,000 (as of June 2023). In addition to earning more, Class A CDL drivers are also in very high demand, so finding work is often easier, and Class A drivers are able to pick from more opportunities.

2. Earn Your Commercial License Permit (CLP)

Before you can earn your CDL, you must start by earning your commercial license permit (CLP). You'll need to hold the CLP for a minimum of 14 days, although some states have a longer waiting time. To get the CLP, you must pass a knowledge test and have a driving record free of any concerning incidents for the last 10 years. You must also get medical clearance to ensure that you're healthy enough to safely drive a Class B vehicle. To do this, you'll have to get a complete physical examination through your state's Department of Transportation. The exam will evaluate your hearing, vision, ability to see color, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. 

3. Complete CDL Training

Once you have your CPL, you will need to go through CDL Class B training before you can apply for a license. Each state has different CDL training requirements. Depending on what those requirements are, you may feel more comfortable if you take extra time to practice and study before applying. If you have a specific role that you'd like to fill, you may need an endorsement. Endorsements include:

  • (H) Hazardous materials
  • (P) Passenger transport
  • (S) School bus/ passenger transport
  • (T) Tank vehicle
  • (X) Tanker and hazardous materials

Consider which endorsements are right for you at this time. You will need to take a written examination to earn these endorsements and may also need to take a special skills test. Decide in advance what kind of endorsement you want and find out what you'll need to do to earn it. 

4. Complete the Tests

Once you've had your CLP for the minimum number of days and have finished the training required, you can pursue your CDL Class B. You may need to make an appointment at your local DMV. There are three parts to the test: a vehicle inspection test, a road test and a basic controls test. Each state handles this test in different ways. If you fail a part of the test, for example, you may be able to take the other parts, or the process may stop there. If you do fail, you may come back again to take the test later, but there may be a waiting period. All of these details vary from one state to the next. 

5. Complete the Paperwork

Once you've passed your test, you can get your Class B CDL. You'll need to submit your paperwork to the proper office in your state. Some states will issue the CDL on the same day, others may send it through the mail.

Class A or Class B CDL?

The type of CDL that you pursue impacts your earning power - maybe for years to come. As you're trying to decide which type of CDL is right for you, consider the following:

Class A CDL drivers can do everything Class B CDL drivers can do, and then some. If all you want to do is drive a school bus or a dump truck, for example, getting a Class B may be fine. Many Class B CDL drivers make less because they are typically home more. However, if you think you want to make more or expand your skillset or eventually own your own trucking business, you might be better off getting a Class A CDL right from the start. Either way, if you don’t have a CDL or if you want to go from a Class B to a Class A CDL, Roehl has the training resources to help you.

You can earn money while getting your Class A CDL with Roehl. If you have concerns that getting a Class A CDL will take too long and you'd like to start earning money as soon as possible, Roehl can help with that. Roehl Transport offers on-the-job CDL training, which means that you can get your truck driving career up and running fast, and you can get paid while doing that. 

Many Class A CDL truck drivers earn over $100,000 annually. For example, top earners at Roehl earn over $100,000 annually. These drivers have a Class A CDL, an excellent safety record, and schedules that vary depending on the type of fleet that they are in. For Class B drivers concerned about home time, Roehl has a variety of fleet options. From home daily, to home weekly to even flexible home time, Roehl’s size and fleet diversity means we have options to help drivers meet their personal and professional needs. In other words, your career can be what you want to make of it. With the right CDL, the right endorsement(s) and a safety record that you can be proud of, you can earn dramatically more than a Class B CDL holder, and it won't take that long.

Want to learn more about getting your Class A CDL with Roehl Transport, one of North America’s safest and most successful trucking companies? Start your Class A CDL application now.

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This page was last updated on 06/27/2023