How to Get a Tennessee CDL License

Truck drivers are in high demand across the nation. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck and bus drivers accounted for nearly four million jobs across the nation in 2012, and this figure is projected to grow considerably though 2018. In order to break into this lucrative and exciting profession, a person must first obtain a CDL, or commercial driver’s license. In Tennessee, anyone who plans on driving a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds is required to have a CDL. Tennessee drivers desiring to enter the in-demand field of truck driving should be prepared for intensive study and several hours of training behind the wheel, because the Tennessee Department of Safety requires every CDL applicant to pass a comprehensive written knowledge test and a road skills test before being granted their CDL license.

Tennessee CDL License Requirements

Before enrolling in a CDL training school, you should first confirm that you are eligible in the state of Tennessee to take the exam and receive a coveted CDL license. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety, in order to qualify for a CDL license with interstate travel permissions, you must be a U.S. citizen at least 21 years of age. However, anyone under 21 years of age may be able to receive a CDL license with limited privileges and travel within the state. Drivers who have been convicted of DUI, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, or any other serious traffic violations are ineligible to obtain a Tennessee CDL.

Upon reviewing the CDL manual, drivers will discover detailed information regarding the requirements that must be met in order to pass the written and road skills examinations. For example, the road test requires drivers to conduct an external and internal safety check of an actual vehicle, demonstrate skill in operating the vehicle’s clutches and gears, and drive the vehicle without any problems. For study, the checklists used in the actual test are provided in the CDL manual.

Tennessee CDL License Cost

CDL licenses are issued as Class A, Class B, and Class C. These classes are based upon the gross vehicle weight. Class A CDLs are for drivers who plan on operating combination vehicles that haul loads of 10,000 pounds or more. Drivers who plan on operating vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds are issued Class B CDLs. Finally, drivers who plan on operating transport buses or vehicles that transport hazardous materials must obtain a Class C CDL. In Tennessee, a Class A CDL cost $46.00, and both Class B and C CDLs cost $41.00. Each class of CDL must be renewed every five years.

Tennessee CDL License Training

The Tennessee CDL manual provides a wealth of information to teach drivers about the various regulations involved in driving a commercial vehicle. However, drivers can only obtain the practical knowledge needed to safely operate a commercial vehicle through proper training. There are several truck driving schools located in Tennessee that aim to prepare drivers for every aspect of safely driving a commercial vehicle and the rigors of the road.

The Process of Obtaining a Tennessee CDL

As mentioned earlier, there are two tests involved in CDL licensing: the written knowledge exam and the road skills test. The written examination is designed to test a driver’s knowledge of all of the various rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of a commercial vehicle. For those who plan on hauling hazardous materials, there may be more than one written exam required. The subject matter of the exam is quite varied, with subjects ranging from basic operation questions to questions regarding how to perform proper safety checks. There are nearly 50 locations around the state of Tennessee that offer the written examination. After passing the exam, the Department of Safety will issue a permit that allows a driver to move on to the road skills test.

The road skills test measures a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle and assess its safety. Drivers who plan on operating a school bus, city bus, or any other transport vehicle may be required to take more than one road skills test. There are testing centers located in Washington, Shelby, Knox, Madison, Putnam, Davidson, Hamilton, and Maury County that offer the CDL road examination. Drivers who pass the written and road test will immediately be granted their commercial driver’s license.