How to Get Your Commercial Learner’s Permit as a Truck Driver

Tuesday, Mar 12 2019 Randall-Reilly Editor

When you first consider a career as a commercial truck driver, you hear a lot of trucking news about getting your CDL. After all, you must have your commercial driver’s license before you can be hired for your first truck driving job. But did you know that truck driving students start out with a commercial learner’s permit? That’s right, you need a CLP to be able to start learning skills to be a behind the wheel, official truck driver. Begin with everything you need to know about getting a CLP as a truck driving student.

About a Commercial Learner’s Permit

A commercial learner’s permit is the first step in being a truck driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that you must have your CLP before you can get your CDL. In fact, you are required to have your commercial learner’s permit for 14 days before you can get your CDL. So when you are getting ready to become a trucker, keep this in mind. You will not be able to walk in and complete the entire process of getting your CDL in just a single day.

However, once you get your CLP, the Department of Motor Vehicles office may give you your actual ID that same day. Keep in mind some DMVs, like the one for Washington truck drivers searching for truck driving jobs in the Pacific Northwest, require you to wait to get your CLP in the mail. Make sure your address is correct on your CLP application to ensure you receive your ID.

About the Commercial Learner’s Permit Test

To receive your CLP, you will need to take and successfully pass the commercial learner’s permit test. You will also have to pay for your commercial learner's permit. This pricing varies from state to state. In addition, some states may require you to attend trucking school as part of the process.

The driving exam covers the knowledge portion of the CDL test. You will not be required to know how to drive a truck at this point. However, you are required to know all of the written information, available in CDL study guides, regarding how to safely operate a commercial vehicle. This factually based exam tests you on the general knowledge of having a commercial driver’s license. You must know how to drive and transport freight safely.

When you get your CLP you will need to pass a few qualifications. Along with taking all of the knowledge tests for the CDL, you must also get your certified medical examiner certificate. The CME medical certificate is a requirement of all truck drivers to ensure you are in safe health for yourself and those around you.

When you have 80,000 pounds of freight barreling down the highway, the last thing you want to do is have a heart attack. Keeping yourself in the right physical health is part of your duty with being a professional truck driver. Passing the certified medical exam is just one way to ensure all truckers meet the baseline expectations for this potential public health issue.

What a CLP Allows You to Do

All of this information is available without getting behind the wheel of a big rig. In fact, until you have your CLP, you want to avoid making that move. A CLP is the truck driver’s permit that lets you practice on public roads. This is only if you have a truck driver with a valid CDL in the cab with you. To recap, a CLP allows you to ride with a trucker with a CDL who is training or mentoring you to be a truck driver. The truck driver is not required to have special training in order to provide you with behind the wheel training.

However, your best bet is to go through a trucking company or truck driving school to receive training. This way you can be sure that whoever is riding alongside is skilled enough to show you the ropes as a student driver. After all, just because you have a CDL doesn’t mean you have the skill and insight to train someone else. Being a commercial truck driver is one of the toughest jobs you can have. You must be prepared to stay safe and to keep those around you safe from trucking accidents over the road.

How Long a CLP Lasts

As noted, you are required to have your CLP for at least 14 days before you can take the second part of the CDL exam—the behind the wheel skills test. The CLP is valid for up to 180 days after you receive it. So you have six months from the time you get your learner’s permit as a truck driving student to train to take the road test. By the way, the road test portion of the CDL is actually three parts. You will have to take the vehicle inspection test and basic control test along with the skills test. To be able to pass all three of these CDL tests, you need to use your CLP wisely.

Find Trucking Schools and CDL Training Today

Take the six months before your CLP expires to train to be a truck driver. Whether you opt for a professional truck driver training school or you choose paid CDL training with a trucking company—we can help you get there. Here at Trucker Classifieds, we provide a wealth of resources for truck driving students. From finding truck driving schools near you to going with the best carrier for new hires, our truck driver job platform has everything you need.

All of our free truck driver job resources including a free trucking job application service are geared toward making your trucking career a success. It all starts with Trucker Classifieds and our secure, 100 percent free truck driver job search service.

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