How To Decide Which Type of CDL Training is Right for You
Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL’s)
So you’re ready to get your CDL. Now, you need to decide which type of CDL training best suits you and what you want for your future. Choosing the right CDL course is crucial. It will determine what you do for the rest of your life. But how do you know which course is the right one for you?
How do the CDL Classes differ?
Each CDL classification differs by the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) among other things. The CDL classification you choose determines the type of vehicle you are allowed to drive and also which endorsements you may be required to obtain.
What are the types of CDL’s?
The three types of CDL’s are Class A, Class B, and Class C. You will need to decide which one will benefit you the most by first deciding what type of vehicle you will be operating or what kind of job you would like to get. Each Class is distinguished by the type of vehicle intended to operate.
What is a Class A CDL?
Many drivers opt for the typical Class A commercial driver's license. This license is required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, and to include a towed vehicle that is heavier than 10,000 lbs.
This would include the tractor-trailer, even the double and triple trailers. Tankers, flatbeds, belly dumps ( or bottom dump trailers), and livestock trailers would all be included in the Class A, as well.
What is a Class B CDL?
A Class B CDL allows a driver to operate commercial vehicles that have an attached cab and cargo area with a total combined weight that is greater than 26,000 pounds. It also allows the driver to operate trucks with a detached towed cargo vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds.
With the Class B CDL, you would be able to drive straight trucks, most kinds of buses, and box trucks like delivery trucks. The Class B also qualifies you to drive dump trucks with small trailers.
What is a Class C CDL?
A Class C CDL allows the driver to operate any vehicle that is made to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is used for HazMat (the transportation of materials classified as hazardous).
With a Class C CDL, you would be able to drive a HAZMAT truck, passenger vans, and combination vehicles like a small truck towing a trailer.
What’s the major difference in a “Class A” and a “Class B” CDL?
A Class A CDL covers everything. It allows you to operate any Class B or Class C vehicle except a passenger bus or school bus. To operate a bus, you would be required to get an additional passenger endorsement. The Class B will not allow you to drive an 18-wheeler.
Is there any reason to get a Class A if you are not driving a “big rig”?
Well now, let’s see. There may be some big benefits to getting your Class A as opposed to just getting a Class B, even if you don’t ever intend on using it. Although you may think that you will always be driving only vehicles that would require a Class B, you never know when things might change. Take this situation for instance: You take a job driving for a company that has all Class B vehicles. Some time down the road, this company decides to expand their fleet to include a 2013 Freightliner and a 53’ trailer. Now, these rigs can only be driven if you have a Class A license and only the drivers who have the Class A will get in on this promotion. Wouldn’t you want that to be you?
What are the “Pros” of getting a Class A?
Getting the Class A CDL will give you access to the most jobs and the freedom of choice. You will be able to operate most Class B and Class C vehicles, as well, with the Class A CDL. Keep in mind that the Class A companies will probably not count your Class B time as driving experience.
What are the “Pros” of getting a Class B?
The Class B takes less time to get and is more affordable. You can always go to work using the Class B and save up to upgrade to a Class A later.
Do I need to go to Truck Driving School to upgrade my Class B to a Class A?
While you may have gained some driving experience during your Class B driving time, driving a big rig is a whole new ball game. You’ve been used to driving a straight truck. Now, you need to learn how to drive an extended length that bends in the middle. That can be challenging. You also will need to learn about backing, lining up, you will need the air brakes certification, and you need to learn how to shift a 9,10,13,15,or 18-speed transmission. This is a lot of responsibility. Knowing that you are learning these things from a professional who is trained to do just that, will give you the peace of mind that you need.
You never know what the future might hold. You want to be prepared for anything and you certainly don’t want to limit your choices. In my opinion, the Class A is the way to go. It gives you the most choices for only a little more time and money than the Class B and you can still drive Class B vehicles, as well. It is definitely worth the investment as you can easily make up the difference in time and money quickly. But hey! It’s your future. You decide!