How to Become a Class B Commercial Driver in 5 Steps

You'll need to obtain a commercial driver's license in order to operate Class B vehicles. Commercial driving training programs are often helpful for aspiring commercial drivers. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Class B Commercial Driver?

Class B commercial drivers operate vehicles with a gross weight rating of over 26,000 pounds. This includes tractor-trailer trucks that carry goods and equipment to locations all around the country. Daily tasks for these operators include driving long distances, communicating with dispatchers, maintaining log books and conducting general maintenance. When on the road truck drivers have to follow a number of federal and state regulation in addition to the general traffic laws. Before taking to the road they need to inspect their equipment for any problematic conditions. In the event of a problem they need to be able to report the problem and have repairs done in manner that reduces delays.

Step 1: Research Class B Commercial Driver Duties and Training

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a Class B vehicle is any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,000 pounds. Operators of these vehicles must hold a state commercial driver's license (CDL). Class B commercial drivers load, transport and deliver goods ranging from livestock to commercial products. They are responsible for completing their trip safely, as well as maintaining their vehicle. Commercial drivers must have specialized training to learn to drive and take care of large vehicles.

Step 2: Obtain a Non-Commercial Class C License

A non-commercial Class C license is a general driver's license commonly held by most individuals of driving age. This license allows individuals to operate cars and small trucks, which can provide experience for those seeking a commercial license. All drivers should avoid traffic violations. Many states and most employers require commercial drivers to have a clean driving record.

Step 3: Consider a Commercial Driving Training Program

Commercial driving programs prepare drivers to pass the commercial licensing exam and are available at community colleges, vocational schools and independent truck driving schools. The Professional Truck Driver Institute provides a list of schools that meet Federal Highway Administration guidelines. These programs provide classroom instruction in industry regulations, safety, trip planning and vehicle inspection, as well as hands-on experience operating and maneuvering large trucks. Students need to obtain a CDL instruction permit. This permit allows students to practice driving when accompanied by a properly authorized individual.

Step 4: Obtain a Class B License

Individuals must apply for a Class B commercial license at their state department of motor vehicles. Licensing requirements include a clean driving record and passing both a written and practical exam. Drivers must also pass a physical test every two years, including tests for hearing and vision. One must be at least 21 years old in order to drive on interstate highways.

Step 5: Get a Job

The majority of Class B commercial drivers work in the transportation, wholesale and retail industries where they transport goods between locations. Others work in construction or manufacturing industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to grow at an about-average rate of five percent from 2014-2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to class B commercial drivers, bus drivers must also have a CDL and follow special state and federal regulations. Delivery truck drivers also transport goods and equipment, but without a class B commercial license they are limited to vehicles and cargo with a gross weights below 26,000 pounds and typically stay local. Workers in railroad and water transportation have similar responsibilities as class B commercial drivers but rather than operating a tractor-trailer trucks on the highways, they operation trains and shipping vessels.

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