The federal government requires commercial driver’s licenses for anyone operating specific types of vehicles used for commercial purposes.
However, commercial driver’ licenses (CDLs) come in a variety of classes, and each state also has its own requirements for CDL applicants. Class B commercial driver’s licenses are one of several types of CDLs.
The A, B, Cs of Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Which category of license you need depends primarily on the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle and any trailers being towed by that vehicle. The three main categories of CDL are classes A, B, and C.
Besides allowing a driver to operate a specific size vehicle, the CDL class also regulates which driver’s license endorsements the license holder can apply for.
Endorsements are additional certifications attached to a driver’s license allowing the driver to operate certain types of vehicles or to carry specific types of cargo. For example, a HAZMAT endorsement provides for transportation of hazardous materials.
Class A CDLs allow the driver to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or heavier with a vehicle or trailer in tow over 10,000 pounds. This includes:
- tanker trucks
- livestock transport vehicles
Class B CDLs are needed for operating a single vehicle of 26,001 pounds or more and transporting a trailer up to 10,000 pounds with that vehicle.
Class B driver’s licenses are used for operating:
- straight trucks
- buses, including city transport buses, school buses, and tour buses
- segmented buses
- delivery and courier trucks
- concrete delivery trucks
- dump and garbage trucks
- utility repair vehicles
With the correct endorsements, a class B CDL holder can also drive certain class C vehicles.
Class C CDL licenses are for any vehicle not covered by either the class A or B license and which transports 16 or more people, driver included, or which carries HAZMAT materials as defined by the federal government.
Vehicles requiring a Class C CDL include:
- HAZMAT transporting vehicles
- passenger vans
- trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or more with a trailer under 10,000 pounds.
Class B Driver's License Training
Training through a CDL school is not always required for a license, but taking a CDL course can make it easier and faster to get a class B commercial driver’s license. These courses cover topics including vehicle inspection, air brakes, driving safety, and behind-the-wheel training and experience taught by experienced truck drivers.
How to get a CDL Class B license: CDL school applicants must undergo a screening process, have a current Department of Transportation (DOT) physical ability card, and possess a current commercial class B learner’s permit from the state where the school is located.
The employment prospects for people with a commercial driver’s license Class B are expected to grow at a rate of approximately 6% annually through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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