As an aspiring CDL truck driver, you might want to know:
“What type of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) do you need to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)? What are the requirements in Florida?”
To operate a (CMV) commercial motor vehicle in Florida, you must have a CDL. The classes of CDLs and endorsements vary depending on the cargo type, vehicle type, and shape. Here’s a handy guide to help you understand the process.
How to Get a CDL in Florida
You’ll require a CDL to operate a vehicle or a combination vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more or one that carries hazardous material or over 16 passengers.
No matter the type of CDL you plan to get, you must have a traditional FL driver’s license, pass the vision test, and at least be 18 years of age.
Next, you’ll apply for a Conditional Learner’s Permit (CLP). The CLP will allow you to practice driving on public roads under the supervision of a qualified CDL holder. After getting your CLP, walk into the Division of Driver License to ascertain the following requirements.
Florida CDL Requirements
To qualify for a CDL in Florida, you must meet some medical, residency, and knowledge and skills requirements. The basics entail:
- Age Requirement: You must be at least 18 years old to drive a commercial vehicle within the state of Florida and at least 21 years to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines, carry hazardous materials, or transport passengers.
- Driving Experience and Existing License Requirement: You must have a valid Florida Class D driver’s license before getting a CDL. Your driving privileges must not be revoked, suspended, canceled, or disqualified in Florida. Plus, you must submit your driving record for review.
- Proof of Residency and Identity: You must prove you reside in Florida and have permission to work in the United States by showing your current driver’s license.
- CLP and Skills Test: After doing the Conditional Learner’s Permit (CLP) knowledge test and holding your CLP for 14 days, you can take driving skills tests and obtain your CDL. The driving skill tests entail: ‣ Vehicle inspection tests ‣ A commercial driving road test ‣ Basic control test
- Medical Requirements and Self-Certification: You’ll require a physical medical exam that assures the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that you’re physically fit and have good vision in both eyes with or without vision aids.You must certify with the State’s Driver License Agency before issuance or renewal of a CDL. You must also self-certify what type of commerce you will be doing and whether you must carry a medical certificate.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL in Florida?
Florida’s Division of Licenses currently charges the following CDL fees:
- $75 for an original or renewed commercial driver’s license
- $7 for each endorsement
- $10 for knowledge exams retest
- $20 for skill exam retest
How Long Does It Take to Get a CDL in Florida?
It takes roughly seven weeks when attending a full-time driver training program in Florida. However, plenty of factors determine the length of time to get your CDL, such as:
- Class of a CDL: Class A programs take longer than B because Class A trains you to drive a great variety of trucks and carry larger loads
- Endorsements you want to add
- Test scheduling ability
Classifications and Associated Exam Requirements in FL
Commercial driver’s license varies depending on the size, weight, and functionality of the commercial vehicle you intend to drive. They entail:
Class A CDL
If you intend to operate combination vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more in gross combination weight rating and towing a vehicle over 10,000 pounds, you’ll need a Class A CDL. These vehicles include:
- Semi-tractor trailers
- Tanker vehicles
- Trailers double/triple trailers
- Livestock carriers.
Class B CDL
Class B CDL allows the operation of single vehicles with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more or combination vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds towing a vehicle whose gross weight is 10,000 pounds or less. The license will enable you to operate:
- Large passenger buses
- Segmented buses
- Box trucks
- Dump trucks with small trailers.
Class C CDL
Florida’s Class C CDL allows the operation of vehicles transporting hazardous material with warning signs or vehicles to transport over 15 people (including the driver) or any vehicle or combination of vehicles that don’t fit in Class A or B.
A Class C CDL allows you to operate commercial vehicles like:
- Double/Triple Trailers
- Tank trucks
- HazMat vehicles.
You’ll require endorsements to drive doubles/triples, tanks, passengers, and hazardous material.
The endorsements you can add to your CDL in Florida are:
- H — Placarded HAZMAT
- N — Tankers
- P — Passenger vehicle
- T — Double/Triple trailers
- X — Tankers and placarded HAZMAT
- S — School bus
What Makes Florida a Great Place to Start a Truck Driving Career?
Holding a CDL unlocks job opportunities today in the US. Plenty of reasons make Florida a great place to start your truck driving career. These include:
Strategic Geographical Location
Florida is the southeasternmost state in the US — surrounded by 14 seaports and a thriving import and export industry. The state has access to Atlantic shipping lanes and a year-round warm climate — making it one of the best for a truck driving career.
Moreover, FL has major cities like Miami and Jacksonville with growing populations that make truck driving jobs plentiful because of the rising demand for e-commerce products.
High Truck Driving Employment Levels
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Florida is among the top three states with the highest employment rate of truck drivers, with 86,790 employees.
The BLS figures further suggest that the employment of heavy and tractor-trailer drivers will likely grow by 2% from 2019 to 2029 across the country.
Florida Has Great Routes
Florida has some of the most preferred truck driving routes — a factor that makes it a great state to start a truck driving career. If you consider routes alone, Orlando and Lakeland are two of the best cities you can live in Florida.
The two cities are the best starting locations for routes that travel north up the East Coast or west, all the way to California.
Job Outlook and Salary for Truck Driving in Florida
Analysis shows that the US has a shortage of over 60,000 truck drivers. If the trend continues, the country could see a deficit of 160,000 truck drivers by 2028.
The shortage is a result of the high retirements in the truck driving industry. In response, the transportation industry is trying to backfill these positions as quickly as possible to maintain the high volume of freight that requires transportation.
It’s almost certain that you’ll get a job once you get your CDL.
However, several factors affect your total wage as a truck driver in Florida. For instance, working in the following subfields may pay $60,000 per year and more:
- Motion pictures and videos
- Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution
- Pipeline transport
- Spectator sports
- Couriers and express delivery services
Your location in specific metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas can change your pay rate by thousands of dollars a year too. For instance, working in Panama City, Orlando, and Jacksonville is more promising.
What Is the Demand for Truck Drivers in Florida?
The demand for truck drivers in Florida is high because of the nationwide shortage of over 60,000 truck drivers. The shortage affects not only truckers but also the manufacturers and consumers.
The manufacturers can’t get raw materials to make goods, and they don’t have much to ship. The trucker shortage has contributed to the slowdown of the supply chain. To help solve the situation, many companies are open to hiring new truckers, even those with less experience.
How Much Do CDL Drivers Make in Florida?
According to the BLS, the average wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $43,140 a year in 2020. The median hourly wage in 2020 was $19.54. This wage is slightly below the national median hourly wage for truck driving jobs in the US.
Most drivers wonder about the requirements for a CDL in FL and how to get a trucking job. The following steps are necessary to meet the requirements for a truck driving career.
- Deciding what class of commercial driver’s license you need
- Attending a CDL training program in FL
- Passing your CDL knowledge and skills exams
- Applying for a trucking job in Florida
People Also Ask
Here are quick answers to questions you might be asking about Florida CDL requirements and procedures.
What Disqualifies You From Getting a CDL in Florida?
Some FMCSA regulations disqualify from legally operating a commercial motor vehicle temporarily or permanently. They entail:
- Major offenses like driving under the influence of alcohol and controlled substance, refusing to take an alcohol test, leaving the scene of the accident, and using a vehicle to commit a felony
- Serious traffic violations like excessive speeding, erratic traffic lane changes, and reckless driving
- Committing railroad-highway grade crossing offenses
- Violating out-of-order service orders
How Do I Get a CDL in Florida Without Going to School?
If you still want to proceed without going to school, you should try the following options:
- Enroll in an online course to get the necessary information.
- Find a sponsor to help you practice driving to prepare for the driving test.
- Locate and bring the CMV you plan to drive to your driving test.
Who is Required to Hold a Florida CDL?
Anyone who operates the following vehicles in FL is required to have a valid CDL:
- A single-vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 26,001 pounds, towing a unit weighing 10,000 pounds or less
- A combination vehicle with a GVWR over 26,001 pounds, towing a unit over a GVWR of over 10,000 pounds
- A passenger vehicle that carries 16 or more people, including the drive
- Any size vehicle that requires hazardous material placards (Hazmat) or transports a toxin or a select agent in the 42 CFR Part 73.
What is the Military Skills Test Waiver Program in Florida?
The military skills test waiver is a friendly program in Florida that exempts drivers with at least two years of military service operating a CMV from the CDL driving test.
The military driver must apply within one year of leaving the military position.