If you’re considering a career in truck driving, then you’ll need to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL). The total cost of getting a CDL will vary based on the truck driving school you choose and where you live, but on average it’ll cost between $3,000 and $10,000. This includes all training and fees that you’ll need to pay before you can start your career as a commercial truck driver. Whether you’re thinking about a new career in truck driving or already driving, here’s what you should know about licensing requirements and the costs associated with getting your CDL.
Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is a big responsibility because it requires special knowledge and skills. Drivers must obtain a CDL through their home state. Additionally, special endorsements may be required for driving certain types of vehicles or hauling certain types of loads. State governments are responsible for issuing CDLs, so make sure to check with your state for specific requirements.
The specific requirements to getting your CDL for the first time will vary depending on the state you’re in. Typically, you’ll have to meet the following minimum requirements:
Remember to check with your state department of transportation for specific CDL requirements. If you are trying to choose which CDL school to attend, read our short "How To Find The Right CDL School For You."
If you already have your CDL, you have the option to renew it. Depending on the state you’re in, you may even be able to renew your license online. Each state will have its own set of requirements for license renewal, so again, be sure to check with your state for specific requirements.
For example, in Utah, drivers can renew their CDL six months prior to the expiration date. Drivers will need to renew their license in person by visiting one of the CDL driver’s license offices. If you’ve had more than four citations or a suspension or revocation in the past five years, you may be required to take a 25-question regular driver license (Class D) written knowledge test.
After you successfully complete all requirements to renew your CDL, you will receive a temporary CDL on the spot. Your renewed CDL will be mailed to you in approximately 4-6 weeks.
There are multiple factors that determine the cost of getting a CDL, so it will vary depending on the state you live in. Truck drivers should check with their state department of transportation website or office to see if their state charges the following fees for getting a CDL:
Here’s what you should know about the different types of CDL fees:
Once you have passed the CDL exam, you’ll have to pay for your commercial driver’s license fee. The license must be renewed on a regular basis and the frequency will vary by state.
To operate certain types of commercial vehicles, an endorsement may be required. There are six types of endorsements truck drivers can add to their CDL license, along with the testing requirement for each one:
The CDL written test includes questions on a variety of topics ranging from operating the systems in the vehicle, maintaining safe operating speeds, driving in different types of driving conditions, handling cargo, using an electronic logging device, and more. Test-takers have up to 60 minutes to complete the exam. If a driver wants to add a specific type of endorsement, they may be required to answer additional questions. Most endorsement tests will require drivers to answer an additional 20 to 25 questions. There’s typically no time limit to answer the endorsement exam questions, but be sure to check with your state to verify this.
The CDL skills test includes pre-trip inspection, backing tests, and road tests. The road test is a hands-on driving exam that will test drivers to see if they can operate a truck safely in a variety of traffic conditions. A CDL road test requires drivers to navigate safely while obeying all traffic signs, signals, and laws.
Military personnel may apply for a military skills test waiver if they are currently licensed or were employed in the past 12 months in a military position that required the operation of a military motor vehicle similar to a commercial motor vehicle.
The CDL application is the form you’ll need to complete when you apply for your commercial driver's license. This form will ask you for your identification information such as your name, address, date of birth, and social security number. It will also include certification-related questions such as asking if you are a resident in the state where you’re applying for the CDL. Additionally, the application will also ask about which (if any) CDL endorsements you’d like to obtain.
Tuition for getting your CDL will vary and can range between $1,500 to $8,000. Combined with the other costs discussed, the total cost to get your CDL will be between $3,000 and $10,000. The exact cost will depend on a variety of things such as the truck driving school you attend and the location of your licensing. Since fees vary by state, we've put together a fee schedule for your reference. Keep in mind that fees are subject to change.
|State||CDL License Fee||CLP Permit App Fee||CDL App Fee||CDL Written Test Fee||CDL Skills Test Fee||CDL Road Test Fee||CDL Endorsement Fee|
|Rhode Island||$82.50||$72.50||$12.50||$10 each||x||x||x|