A commercial driver’s license allows civilians to operate commercial trucks. The standard driver’s license doesn’t allow drivers to operate big rigs. There are three types of CDL licenses, and each allows a trucker to operate a different type of vehicle.
Before we go into detail about age requirements to get your CDL, let’s discuss the types of CDL licenses you can obtain.
CDL License Types
Federal standards regulate the trucking industry. States are responsible for issuing commercial learner’s permits (CLP) and commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). But all states maintain three classes of CDL licenses:
- Class A: A combination of vehicles with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more. The weight limit is inclusive of a towed unit (trailer) with a gross weight rating of 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: A single vehicle license for vehicles that have a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more. Towing units must have a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
- Class C: A single or combination of vehicles that don’t fall within Class A or B definitions.
Exact weight limits will be determined to ensure regulatory adherence.
CDL Age Requirements
Intrastate transport and regulation is governed by the state that the applicant works. Truckers that aim to start their career early may be able to start driving commercially as young as 16 years of age in some states.
But if cargo needs to leave the state, this falls under interstate regulations.
Interstate regulations require all CDL drivers to be 21 years of age nationwide.
So, although a person living in Maine can receive their CDL license at 16, they will not be allowed to drive over state lines.
A 16-year-old in Maine can obtain a commercial driver’s license, but the driver will not be allowed to drive a school bus or haul hazardous material. Every state has their own regulations on the material that can be hauled when the driver is under the federally required age for a CDL of 21.
State Requirements for CDL Drivers
States have a right to dictate the age requirements for all licenses granted. The drivers need to check with their state’s department of transportation to ensure that they meet the age requirements to obtain a CDL.
States divide their CDL age requirements as follows:
Intrastate (16 years old)
- Maine (non-hazardous at 16)
- South Dakota
Intrastate (18 years old)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Intrastate (19 years old)
Intrastate (21 years old)
- New York
States have the right to regulate truck driving schools and CDL age requirements. Always check with your state’s Department of Transportation if you have questions on your state’s CDL requirements.
2017 Truck Driver Job Outlook
You’ve decided that you want to know how to become a truck driver, but is this a budding career?
What’s the current outlook for truck drivers?
We’re going to look at the industry outlook to see what this career offers.
President Trump has called for less regulations, and this may impact the trucking industry allowing younger drivers and less restrictions.
Trump has called for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, and this will fuel the trucking industry in the years ahead. So, there are major bright sides for truckers when Trump transitions into President of the United States.
IBISWorld predicts a 2.4% rise in trucking sales, and domestic freight increases, too.
There isn’t concrete data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the trucking industry for the current year.
But, from recent BLS reports we see that:
- $20.86 median pay
- $44,260 per year salary
- 5% growth rate through 2024
- Additional 98,800 jobs added between 2014 and 2024
So, there is a bright, growing industry with trucker demands increasing over the next 7-year period. This means higher job openings and higher wages.
Trucks.com reports that a major shortage of truck drivers has taken place in the United States. A shortage leads to higher demand and greater negotiating ability for drivers. The shortage of drivers led to the trucking industry having the largest pay raise in any profession in 2016.
So, if there was any time to become a trucker, it’s now.
The statistics come from Glassdoor.com, and through October 2016, trucker salaries rose 7.8% on the year. This jump in salary is the largest among the site’s 60 industries that it tracks. Los Angeles truck drivers enjoyed a salary surge of 9.3%.
Median pay varies from employer to employer, and this skews the salary data provided. The median pay was $54,000 for truckers. But, when considering salaries across all categories, the median salary was $51,400.
The industry is lacking 25,000 drivers, so the demand is high.
Truckers also enjoy a low unemployment rate of 4.9%.
If you want to become a truck driver, you need to first obtain your CDL license. Trucking schools can help train drivers and offer job placement allowing new drivers to find a job the moment they leave school.
With salaries rising and a severe shortage of truck drivers, this is a career with stability and longevity.