New Mexico is beautiful. Mile after mile of scenic, wind-carved landscapes, colorful aspen trees that compare in the fall to any in New England, historic sites and ghost towns and a hundred other reasons to make driving a commercial vehicle in New Mexico an attractive career choice. The first thing you’ll need to pursue a life on the New Mexico highways is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and here’s how to get one.
To comply with federal law, every state must have its own CDL standards, but not all states’ requirements are exactly the same. To ensure your success in obtaining a New Mexico CDL, you will want to begin by visiting a Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in New Mexico and asking for a commercial driver’s handbook copy. Every state has one detailing that state’s specific laws and requirements and, in most states, copies are free. You can even download a copy from the convenience of your home or office at http://www.dmv.org/nm-new-mexico/manuals.php and get started studying right away. The state even offers a handy on-line practice test.
New Mexico CDL license training is available, but you may not need it. If you have a valid CDL from another state when you apply for your New Mexico CDL you can switch without additional steps, unless you wish to add a Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) endorsement. To obtain the Hazmat endorsement, you’ll also need to take a written test, be fingerprinted, and pass a background check. If you don’t have a valid out-of-state CDL, you’ll have to start at the beginning. Other requirements to obtain the license are listed at the New Mexico DMV website, and you can also find which DMV offices can issue a CDL and which cannot, so you don’t waste time going to the wrong office.
If you’ve been a CDL-holder for any length of time, studying the manual should be enough to get you licensed in New Mexico. If, however, you’ve never been a commercial driver before and want to change careers or start a new one, there are many, many options for you to explore. A good number of different truck driving schools make their home in New Mexico, all over the state, so you can start learning wherever your location. There are smaller, stand-alone schools with more individual attention, or larger college-style programs, with longer study times. Whichever you choose, you’ll want to consider things like how much actual driving time will you get, what kind of experience does the instructor have, and how much job-placement assistance does the program offer to its graduates. Make sure when you ask about drive time, you specify that you want to know about actual, in-a-real-truck time, not pre-drive inspection time or time spent on a stationary simulator. Schools to be avoided offer minimal actual driving time, or don’t make serious attempts to place new drivers with trucking companies that do hire recent graduates.
New Mexico CDL license cost will vary, again depending on your previous experience, as well as on the endorsements you wish to have and where you take the road test. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of whatever training program you’ve chosen, if you’re a first-time CDL holder. Program costs can vary widely, but usually schools in the same general geographic area won’t vary by more than a few hundred dollars. Look for value, too, not just price.
Overall, do your research based on the kind of license you need, what endorsements you want, and what extra training or practice you may need, and you’ll be well prepared to get your New Mexico CDL.