how old do you have to be to get a CDL?

If you want to drive commercial trucks, you need to know CDL age requirements. In this guide, we’re going to outline the age requirements to get your commercial driver’s license, including:

  • CDL age requirements
  • Restrictions by state
  • CDL endorsements

CDL Age Requirements

Can I Get a CDL at 19?

Maybe. CDL requirements vary by state, and the minimum age range is 18 – 21. In order to receive your license, you will need to:

  • Show proof of citizenship
  • Provide a picture ID
  • Read and write in English

Additionally, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • DOT-issued physical exam
  • Written exam
  • Hands-on skills test
  • Road test

If you do not meet the CDL age requirements of the state or fail any of the above tests, you won’t be able to receive your CDL.

CDL Age Requirements by State

How old do you have to be to drive trucks? It varies drastically from one state to another. Many states have two requirements:

  1. Intrastate – the age to drive commercial vehicles in the specific state
  2. Across state lines – the age you must be to drive commercially outside of the licensing state

Driver restrictions based on each state are as follows:

18 intrastate; 21 across state lines

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho: Note: 16-year-olds can obtain seasonal agricultural licenses
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York (Must have a CDL D before applying for a CDL A, B or C)
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

If you’re 21 or older, you’ll have no issues getting a CDL in any state in the country. However, please note that you will need to have a valid driver’s license before trying to obtain your commercial license.

Additionally, you’ll need to have a good driving record.

For example, if you’ve had multiple at-fault accidents in the past year, you’re very unlikely to be legally required to get your CDL. Employers have stringent safety record requirements when hiring drivers, so you need to keep this in mind, too.

In addition, depending on the state, you’ll also need to pass a TSA security background check. The background check works to prove that you’re not a potential threat to the safety of other drivers or those around you.

CDL Age Requirements in Canada

If you’re a resident of Canada, you can also obtain a CDL. The Ministry of Transportation requires that every driver pass a medical examination, and you’ll need to be the following:

  • 18 – 19 years of age to be a commercial driver
  • 21 or older to become a bus driver

Ontario also has strict medical report requirements. For example, you must submit new medical reports every 5 years if you’re under 46, every 3 years between 46 and 64 years of age, and yearly if you’re older than 65.

CDL Endorsements and Requirements

If you plan to obtain your CDL, you may want to get endorsements, too. An endorsement allows you to haul different goods and makes you a more valuable driver as a result. When you obtain your CDL, you may want to consider the following endorsements, too:

  • T: Allows you to drive a double or triple trailer.
  • P: Allows you to transport passengers.
  • N: Able to operate liquid-carrying tank vehicles.
  • H: Permits you to transport hazardous materials.
  • X: A combination of the N and H endorsement.
  • S: Required to drive a school bus.

Some states do not have endorsements, so you’ll need to verify that your state of residence does have these requirements. Depending on the endorsement, you may need to do one or a combination of the following:

  • Pass a written test
  • Pass a skills test
  • Pass a hands-on driving exam
  • Pass background checks

Hauling hazardous materials comes with the greatest security measures, and you will be required to pass a background check in order to receive this endorsement.

How to Get a CDL Permit

Obtaining your CDL permit, or a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), is what you’ll need to obtain if you plan to get a CDL. If you want to practice driving a commercial vehicle, it’s imperative that you have a permit.

The permit allows you to practice driving on public roads, but you will need a CDL holder sitting next to you the entire time.

A few requirements that you’ll need to meet to get a CLP include:

  • Passing the driver record check, which goes back 10 years and is universal across the nation
  • Proof that you’re medically qualified to drive a commercial vehicle
  • Provide any additional documentation that is required in the state
  • Pay the fee necessary for the permit

You’ll then need to complete your entry-level driver training. Schools across the country are available, which will help you obtain the skills and knowledge necessary to get your CDL. And many trucking companies are willing to pay for your training with the requirement that you drive for the company for a specified period of time, often one to three years.

Do you think that you’re too old to be a truck driver? The average CDL driver in the United States is 49 years old, and many drivers get their CDL in their 50s and 60s. You’re never too old to become a trucker, but you do need to pass a medical exam and state requirements.

If you pass all of the requirements, the trucking industry certainly has a job for you.

With high demand and great pay, you’ll find that trucking is a steady and secure career. If you meet the CDL age requirements and have a good driving record, consider a career as a commercial truck driver.                                                                                                                       

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