Getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step in starting a career in transportation. Some people might think that there is no difference between a CDL and a regular driver’s license — after all, trucks are just big cars, right? In fact, there is a whole extra process to be completed in order to operate larger vehicles such as trucks and busses. One of the most common types of CDL is a Class A CDL. Learn everything you need to know about them here.
If you already have a Class A CDL and at least one year of experience, and are simply looking for Class A CDL jobs, visit our careers page to learn about how you can work for Matheson.
What is Class A CDL?
CDL is not a catch-all term — just because a person has one kind of commercial driver’s license, doesn’t mean they can drive every kind of truck or commercial vehicle. There are actually three different classes of commercial drivers’ licenses:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
You can read more about classes B and C here, but a Class A CDL refers to a license that is required to operate vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 lbs, and which tow a trailer that weighs more than 10,000 lbs.
In some cases, a Class A CDL may allow you to operate B and C class vehicles, with the right endorsements.
What are endorsements and restrictions?
Endorsements and restrictions are additional qualifications that determine which kinds of vehicles you are permitted to drive within each class. Endorsements are often required in order to drive specialist vehicles that are not covered by a regular CDL. They may require additional written and/or practical tests to obtain. Some examples of endorsements for various CDLs include:
H Endorsement — required for operating vehicles containing hazardous materials
T Endorsement — required for operating vehicles with more than one trailer
S Endorsement — required for operating school busses
Restrictions work in somewhat of an opposite way to endorsements. They prevent you from operating certain vehicles. You may have a license with restrictions if you are looking to pass your test and get on the road quicker, or if you simply do not feel that you need that kind of license for your work. Some examples of restrictions include:
E Restriction — prevents you from operating vehicles with a manual transmission
L Restriction — prevents you from operating a vehicle containing a full air brake system
M Restriction — allows you to operate a school bus only, if you have a Class A CDL
Be aware that restrictions may limit the kind of work that you can get, but they can often be removed with the completion of further tests and/or evaluations. You can read more about endorsements and restrictions on the DMV website.
How do I get a CDL Class A?
The process of getting a Class A CDL is similar to the process of getting a regular driver’s license — just with a few more steps. The basic steps for most states are as follows:
- Get a regular driver’s license
- Wait until you are at least 21 years old (18 for intrastate driving)
- Pass a medical evaluation
- Pass a written test
- Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
- Schedule your CDL road skills exam (must wait at least two weeks)
- Practice and/or take lessons
- Complete a pre-trip inspection
- Pass the practical exam
- Pay a fee to obtain the CDL
After this, you can look into which endorsements you would like to add and start getting experience and on-the-job training.
What jobs can I get with a Class A CDL?
Again, the kind of Class A CDL jobs that you can get may depend on the endorsements and/or restrictions that you have on your license. However, some of the most common Class A driver jobs include:
- Driving truck and trailer combinations
- Driving tanker vehicles
- Driving livestock carriers
- Driving flatbed trucks
- Local delivery driver
There are a lot of different Class A CDL jobs, and the variety afforded by obtaining this license is one of the main benefits of getting one. There are also other, non-driving jobs that require a Class A CDL, for example engineering and construction equipment operators.
If you have a Class A CDL and one year of experience, you may be qualified to work with us at Matheson. Check out our careers page to learn more about working for Matheson, and to view available jobs.