If you love the open road and want to make a career out of driving, it’s important to get your CDL (commercial driver license). However, though you may soon be trucking all over the nation, each state has slightly different CDL requirements. As long as you follow steps in a timely fashion and make decisions when needed, you’ll be well on your way to your CDL.
Before starting North Carolina CDL license training, you will need to decide what type of CDL you need. The North carolina DMV offers three separate license types for potential CDL drivers: Commercial Class A (combination of vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more, as long as the one towed is over 10,000 pounds), Commercial Class B (a single vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more and towing a vehicle 10,000 pounds or under), and Commercial Class C (one that fits neither above category but transports 16 or more passengers or transports certain kinds of hazardous materials).
If you aren’t sure what kind of CDL you need, talk to your company. If you want to find work as a bus driver, a CDL class C is what you need.
Are you concerned about the North Carolina CDL license cost? Many people are. The fees are actually fairly affordable. The application fee is the most expensive at $30 per year. If you are approved and have a CDL learners’ permit (this part might remind you of when you were 15 or 16), that costs $15. All other licenses cost $15 per year. If you want more than one license, a duplicate is $10. These fees are very low compared to what you can make as a commercial driver, and you will recoup them very quickly.
Paperwork can be a hassle, but you need a few key documents before you get a license. When you go to the licensing office, be sure to bring these things:
* proof of age or identity. This is important. You need two documents with your name and date of birth on them. Examples include your birth certificate, social security card, tax forms, school documents, etc. You can also bring in a regular driver license.
* your social security number. It isn’t enough to know it; you have to prove the number is yours. Your social security card, 1099 tax form, W-2 form, or other forms reflecting that the number is yours are acceptable.
* proof of residency. You need to prove you live where you say you do. These include voter cards, North Carolina vehicle registration, utility bills, housing contracts, government-issued documents, etc. If you are homeless, a letter from a homeless shelter will suffice as well. Non-U.S. citizens need to show proof of legal presence.
* proof of liability insurance. You must show a policy. If you don’t have a car, the DMV will place a hold on your license allowing you to drive fleet vehicles only, and you can pay $10 to remove that fee.
If your company requires you to have a medical card, bring that as well. You must also meet basic age requirements: you need to be 18 years old and 21 for medical-card-requirimg companies. For a learners’ permit, you need a regular driver license (class A, B, or C). When you drive with your permit, you need to have a license-holding commercial driver in the front seat with you.
Before you have to take the written or skills test, you need to study. Reading the Commercial Driver Manual (available for free download on the NCDOT webpage) is probably your best bet. Take your time, read thoroughly, and take practice tests – you can find free quizzes, etc. online. You can even get a friend to discuss the knowledge and quiz you on it. The good news is, since you already have a plain license, you know the rules of the road. Commercial driving, while different, is likely something you’ll come to understand quickly.
When you are ready to be licensed, you need to take a written test and a skill test like you did when getting your regular license. After your learners’ permit period has ended, you can go back and get a full CDL license. You’ll be on the road in no time.