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Understanding Classifications And Endorsements For Commercial Driving Licenses

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To get a job driving a commercial vehicle, you may first need to get a commercial driving license (CDL). When getting your CDL, your license will need to have the correct classification, plus you may also be required to get certain endorsements. In order to help you better understand, here are the different classifications and endorsements when getting a commercial driving license

CDL Classifications 

If you know you want to become a bus driver, you will need to get a Class B CDL. However, if you want to drive a tractor-trailer or transport hazardous materials, you will need to get another Class of CDL. These classes are dependent upon the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle, along with the weight of anything you will be towing.

Here are the different classifications that a commercial driving license fall under:

  1. Class A - Includes a combination of vehicles with a GVWR of over 26,001 pounds and a towed vehicle of over 10,000 pounds. Along with tractor-trailers, other examples of these types of vehicles include livestock carriers and flatbeds.
  2. Class B - Includes one vehicle with a GVWR of over 26,001 pounds and a towed vehicle up to 10,000 pounds. Along with buses, other examples of these types of vehicles include straight trucks and box trucks.
  3. Class C - Includes vehicles that don't fall under Class A or Class B and are usually vehicles used to transport a certain number of passengers or hazardous materials.

Sometimes, getting a certain Class of CDL will allow you to drive another vehicle in a different class. For example drivers with a Class B CDL may also be able to drive vehicles that fall under the Class C category.

CDL Endorsements

After getting your CDL, you may need to add certain endorsements. Getting the proper endorsement depends on what kind of goods you will be transporting, along with whether or not you need to operate a special kind of vehicle.

Some of the most common CDL endorsement codes include:

  • T - pulling a double or triple trailer
  • P - transporting passengers
  • N - driving tank vehicles
  • H - hauling hazardous materials
  • X - driving a tank vehicle that is used to haul hazardous materials
  • S - driving a school bus

In order to get a T, N, H, or X endorsement, you will be required to take a knowledge test. To get a P or S endorsement, you will need to take a knowledge test plus a road skills test.