If you want to drive a vehicle for commercial purposes, you'll likely need a commercial driver's license (CDL). The federal government requires CDLs for anyone operating specific types of vehicles.
However, there's not just one type of CDL. The three main classes are A, B, and C.
Which one you should get depends on the kind of vehicle you're driving. As an example, with a Class B license, you'll be able to drive a single vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more.
Let's take a look at the different types of CDLs and what you can do with each of them.
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. But because states regulate the requirements for CDLs, it varies depending on where you live. So keep that in mind when reviewing the GVWRs below, and remember to research the rules in your state.
Besides allowing a driver to operate a specific size vehicle, the CDL class also regulates the endorsements the license holder can apply for.
Endorsements are additional certifications attached to a driver’s license. They allow the driver to operate certain types of vehicles or carry specific types of cargo. For example, a HAZMAT endorsement allows a driver to transport hazardous materials.
What Is a Class A Driver's License?
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:
Livestock transport vehicles
What Is a Class B Driver's License?
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:
Buses, including city transport buses, school buses, and tour 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.
What Is a Class C Driver's License?
Class C CDL licenses are for any vehicle not covered by either the class A or B license that transports 16 or more people, driver included. It also includes vehicles that carry HAZMAT materials as defined by the federal government.
Vehicles requiring a Class C CDL include:
HAZMAT transporting vehicles
Trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or less with a trailer under 10,000 pounds
Class B driver's license training
How to Get Your Class B CDL
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:
Behind-the-wheel training and experience taught by experienced truck drivers
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.
Employment Outlook for a Class B Driver's License
The employment prospects for people with a commercial driver’s license Class B is looking good. As an example, if you wanted to become a bus driver, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% growth in employment through 2028.
Delivery truck drivers are also expected to see a 5% growth in employment through 2029. So whatever Class B CDL career you want to try for, you should have plenty of options.
Earn Your CDL Class B License Today
Get crackin' on our training to earn a CDL! Start now by taking our commercial driver's license practice test.