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What Is a Class A License? 2021 Requirements and Training

Last updated: July 30, 2021
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multiple class a licenses sitting on top of each other against a grey background

In most states, licenses depend on the types of vehicles you drive.

Each state has its categorization, but there are common classes.

These include Class A B C D drivers licenses.

Class A, B, and C are commercial or non-commercial.

If you’re planning to drive a commercial truck, you’ll need a Class A commercial driver’s license.

What’s a Class A License?

Class A authorizes you to drive single vehicles or a combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds.

You can also haul trailers that exceed 10,000 pounds.

You’ll need endorsements to tow special cargo such as hazardous materials.

Most states require you to be over 18 or 21 years of age to apply.

When Do You Need Class A License?

You require a Class A license if you intend to drive:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Double/triple trailers
  • Flatbeds
  • Tank vehicles
  • Class C and B vehicles

Differences Between Classes A, B, and C

vector image showing the different types of class a b c d drivers license types laid out on background

Class B is similar to A.

With Class B, you can still operate vehicles that weigh over 26,001 pounds.

However, towed vehicles shouldn’t weigh more than 10,000 pounds.

Below are some cars you can drive with Class B:

  • Box trucks
  • Segmented buses
  • Large buses – school buses, city buses, and tourist buses
  • Dump trucks
  • Class C vehicles

A Class C license allows drivers to drive vehicles not covered by Classes A and B.

You’ll need this if you’re operating a vehicle that transports more than 16 passengers.

Other classes are D and M.

Class D allows you to operate non-commercial vehicles like SUVs, while Class M will enable you to drive motorcycles and mopeds.

Popular Class A Requirements

Each state has unique requirements for Class A licenses.

California

There are two types of Class A licenses in California: the Class A Commercial license (CDL) and the Class A non-commercial license (Non-CDL)

A Class A non-CDL permits drivers to drive any Class C vehicle.

You can also tow trailers that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and 5th-wheel travel trailers that weigh over 15,000 pounds.

Non-commercial drivers can obtain a Class A non-CDL by meeting several stipulations.

They have to:

  • Complete the driver’s license application (DL 44).
  • Pay the necessary fees.
  • Submit a health questionnaire (DL 546).
  • Get through the primary Class C law test. This test isn’t mandatory for individuals who renewed their Class C CDLs within the past 12 months.
  • Pass the non-commercial Class A Trailers law assessment.
  • Pass the vision assessment.
  • Pass a pre-trip inspection test.
  • Pass a driving test.

Applicants should be at least 18 years (intrastate) or 21 years old (interstate) to apply for Class A CDL.

You must submit a recent medical report that a certified examiner has filled.

All applicants must meet medical requirements specified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Some medical conditions that can limit your approval chances include:

  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Epileptic conditions

You need to provide an original copy of your Social Security Card.

You must also pass a vision test, written examination, and skills tests.

Texas

A Texas Class A license allows you to drive vehicles that weigh over 26,001 pounds.

You can either get an interstate or intrastate CDL.

You can also opt for the Class A non-CDL.

An interstate license allows you to drive trucks across several states, while the intrastate license permits you to drive trucks in Texas only.

You need a class A non-CDL if you operate farm trucks, public safety vehicles, or recreational vehicles.

To get a Texas Class A CDL, applicants must:

  • Be residents of Texas.
  • Be at least 21 years old (interstate license) or 18 years old (intrastate license).
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Have no mental, nervous, or psychiatric condition that may affect vehicle control.
  • Have good hearing.
  • Have no severe medical conditions like heart issues, high blood pressure, hand/foot impairment, muscular problems, epilepsy, or conditions that may interfere with consciousness.
  • Be able to read and speak English (interstate license only).
  • Have valid social security numbers.
  • Obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

Georgia

Class A licenses in Georgia can either be commercial or non-commercial.

If you use your vehicle for commercial activities, you have to apply for a CDL.

You require CDL endorsements to drive hazmat, passenger vehicles, and school buses.

CDL exemptions apply to operators of military vehicles, farm equipment, and recreational vehicles.

Bus drivers need a Class B CDL.

Below are the basic requirements that you must meet before getting a Georgia Class A CDL or non-CDL.

  • You must be at least 18 years old to apply for the intrastate Class A license.
  • You have to be 21 years and above to apply for an interstate CDL.
  • You must have a Commercial Learner’s Permit before applying for Georgia’s CDL.
  • You must meet medical requirements stipulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • You must prove you’re a resident of Georgia.
  • You must take and pass written tests.
  • You have to pay the $32 CDL application fee.
  • You have to pay the $50 testing fee.
  • You have to provide necessary documentation showing proof of social security number, identity, and US citizenship.

Florida

Here are the requirements for obtaining a Class A CDL in Florida.

Applicants must:

  • Be 18 years old to apply for the intrastate license.
  • Be 21 years and above to get the interstate license.
  • Be Florida license holders.
  • Submit a 10-year driving record review.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Pay the required fees.
  • Pass the knowledge and skills tests.
  • Provide proof of residency.
  • Provide their identification cards.
  • Meet medical requirements.
  • Speak and read the English language.

Louisiana

You must meet specific requirements before obtaining a Louisiana Class A CDL.

As an applicant, you should fulfill the following requirements:

  • Be 18 years before applying for an intrastate license or 21 years if you intend to drive commercial vehicles outside Louisiana.
  • Possess a valid Louisiana driver’s license. It shouldn’t be revoked or suspended.
  • Be able to read and speak English.
  • Have a 20/40 vision or better.
  • Pass the physical examination.
  • Pass medical exams.
  • Pay the $15 application fee.
  • Pass the knowledge written test.
  • Provide your Social Security Card.
  • Provide your ID card.
  • Pass the Class A skills tests.
  • Pay the $100 skills tests fee.
  • Pay the $41 fee.

Class A License Training

Driving semi-trucks or similar vehicles is no mean feat.

You need adequate driver training to operate such trucks and, importantly, to get your Class A CDL or non-CDL.

The best way of getting a Class A license is by going to a CDL training school.

Each state has unique course materials and training programs.

Most schools split the training course into two, classroom training and hands-on training.

Classroom learning focuses on theoretical aspects of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

You’ll learn about road rules, road signals, driving requirements of each state, and similar things.

Hands-on training equips you with the needed skills to operate commercial trucks.

This training ensures you can safely maneuver huge trucks on the road.

Types of CDL Training Schools

There are three types of Class A training schools.

These schools are licensed schools, certified schools, and accredited schools.

Licensed schools meet minimum requirements set out by a particular state.

The school’s curriculum, facilities, instructors, and training meet basic state standards.

Certified schools undergo third-party inspections and reviews.

You graduate from such schools after passing the standards set out by the Department of Transportation.

There are very few accredited Class A training schools.

These are schools that an agency has accredited under authorization from the US Department of Education.

Class A License Tests

Most states require you to pass two tests to obtain a Class A CDL.

These tests are the knowledge exam and the skills tests.

1. Knowledge Tests

The knowledge test is a written assessment that gauges the applicant’s understanding of road rules and how Class A vehicles operate.

Several mini-assessments make up the knowledge test.

You’ll find exams on general knowledge, combination vehicles, specific endorsements, and air brakes.

In some states, the general knowledge assessment takes 90 minutes, while endorsements take 60 minutes.

Ensure you check the specific test duration in your state’s CDL manual.

2. The Skills Test

Applicants become eligible for the skills test only if they pass the knowledge tests.

This assessment covers the following areas.

3. Vehicle Inspection Test

This test examines your ability to inspect whether a CMV is safe to drive.

4. Basic Controls Test

This assessment requires you to complete basic truck maneuvers. You’ll need to park, turn, and back up the vehicle.

5. Road Test

This practical exam gauges your ability to drive a Class A vehicle on the road.

How to Get a Class A License

a man's hand holding a class a license

The process of getting a Class A CDL or non-CDL varies from one state to the other.

You’ll need to book an appointment with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain a CDL.

Here’s an overview of how the process works.

  • Ensure you’re 18 or 21 years.
  • Complete your state’s CDL application and pay the required fees.
  • Provide proof of residency, identity, and Social Security Number.
  • Submit the medical examination report and the medical examiner’s certificate.
  • Pass the vision test.
  • Take and pass the knowledge test.
  • Receive your CLP.
  • Wait for 14 days, then schedule your skills tests.
  • Pass the skills tests.
  • Pay the CDL fees.
  • Get your Class A CDL or non-CDL.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a Class A License?

A Class A CDL gives you authority to drive vehicles with gross combination weight ratings of 26,001 pounds or more.

You also need this when towing trailers that exceed 10,000 pounds in weight.

What Are the Requirements to Get a Class A License?

Most states require proof of identification, a recent medical examination report, your social security number, a commercial learner’s permit, and proof of successful completion of tests.

What Tests Should I Pass to Get a Class A License?

You must pass the knowledge test and the skills test.

How Long Does it Take to Acquire a Class A License?

If you take a CDL training course, it might take seven weeks to get your Class A CDL or non-CDL.

Get Your Class A CDL

You need a Class A CDL to drive big rigs.

To get this, you must take a training course and several tests.

You have to pass a written exam and a skills test before obtaining this CDL.

You also need to pay the necessary fees and be at least 18 or 21 years old.

Enroll today at an approved training school to get your Class A CDL or non-CDL.

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