Illinois CDL License Requirements – Informational Guide

| Last Updated: December 18, 2021

The demand for truck drivers remains at an all-time high, provided there is the willingness of consumers and the ability to buy.

Starting a career in commercial trucking makes a lot of economic sense for those looking for stable employment and a higher earning potential within a short duration.

However, a successful trucking career starts with getting the necessary qualifications, where a valid CDL is the standard requirement. The state of Illinois is among the best places to start a trucking career once you meet all the CDL requirements.

Below is a detailed breakdown of Illinois CDL license requirements, among other instances that may lead to its disqualification.

How To Get a CDL in Illinois

Getting an Illinois CDL is a straightforward procedure once you meet all the requirements and pass the tests laid out by the Office of Motor Vehicles. The requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Attaining the minimum age
  • Meeting Illinois CDL medical standards
  • Proof of legal status in Illinois, including certification to work in the US for non-US citizens
  • Pay training and test fee
  • Pass all tests, among any other requirement as may apply.

Illinois CDL Requirements

All Illinois CDL applicants must meet the below requirements to obtain an Illinois CDL.

1. Age Requirements

  • You must be 18 years and above to operate a CMV with Illinois state lines (intrastate)
  • You must be 21 years and over to operate a CMV across Illinois state lines (intrastate) or operate vehicles transporting hazardous materials or carrying passengers.

2. Medical Requirements

You must meet all the Illinois CDL medical standards that include taking the following tests from a certified medical practitioner:

  • Vision test
  • Hearing test
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood pressure test
  • Implied consent to alcohol and test for other controlled substances
  • Assessment on physical impairments and their effects on safe CMV operation
  • Prescription drugs and if they may have adverse effects on normal CMV operation

3. Proof of Residence

  • You must give proof of legal status in Illinois. These include showing personal identification documents issued by the US government, including Social Security Number card, Birth Certificate or a US citizen ID, or a Green Card for non-US citizens.

4. Other Certifications

  • You must apply and pass your tests for a commercial learners’ permit (CLP)
  • You must have a valid regular driver’s license (the license must not be disqualified, canceled, suspended, or revoked by Illinois Motor Vehicle Department or any state in the US)

5. Fees

  • You must pay $50 for a CLP application, $60 for a CDL application, and $5 for any CDL endorsement. Other charges for CDL renewal or CDL upgrading to a different class also apply.

Important: All Illinois CDL applicants must be able to speak and read English.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL in Illinois?

Different charges apply for getting an Illinois CDL. Below is an exhaustive breakdown of costs involved in acquiring an Illinois CDL.

  • Application, renewal, or transfer of Classes A, B, and C CDLs: $60
  • Application or renewal of a commercial learner’s permit: $50
  • CDL endorsement: $5
  • Upgrading a current CDL to a different class: $5
  • School bus permit: $4

How Long Does It Take To Get a CDL in Illinois?

Depending on several factors, you can get an Illinois CDL in as little as three weeks or take as long as six months. Otherwise, the standard duration for getting an Illinois CDL when attending classes full-time is seven weeks.

Commercial License Types & Classes in Illinois

You’ll need an Illinois CDL to operate the following categories of vehicles:

Class A CDL

Class A CDL applies to a combination of vehicles with a gross weight of  26,001 pounds or more, given the gross weight of the vehicle being pulled exceeds 10,000 pounds.

Drivers with Class A CDL and any appropriate endorsement can also operate all Class B and C vehicles.

Class B CDL

Class B CDL applies to a single or a combination of vehicles where the gross weight of the single vehicle is more than 26,001 pounds and the vehicle being towed must not exceed 10,000 pounds in gross weight.

Drivers with Class B Illinois CDL and any appropriate endorsement can also operate vehicles listed in Class C.

Class C CDL

Class C CDL includes any single vehicle or a combination of vehicles that neither falls in the definitions of Class A nor Class B CDLs discussed above but are designed for transporting 16 passengers or more, including the driver, or are used for transporting materials marked as hazardous.  

CDL Endorsements Illinois

CDL endorsements allow holders to operate special types of CMV that owning a CDL alone does not. Some CDL endorsements require passing a knowledge test, whereas others are subject to skills tests before certifications.

A CDL endorsement is a great way to advance your trucking career, besides positioning you for higher earnings.  Below are CDL endorsements in Illinois.

  • N endorsement (Tank vehicles)
  • P endorsement (Passenger vehicle)
  • S endorsement (School Bus)
  • T endorsement (Double or Triple Trailers)
  • C endorsement (Charter Bus)
  • X endorsement (Tanker combination and Hazmat)
  • What Makes Illinois a Great Place to Start a Truck Driving Career? 

    The best places to start a trucking career should have great training institutions and job markets to absorb graduates.  Illinois offers both and beyond. Here are reasons you should consider a trucking career in Illinois.

    Certified Training Institutions

    Illinois has up to 81 trucking schools certified by the Secretary of State to offer high-end CDL driving training. Students benefit from state-approved curricula and on-site training provided by professionals with many years of experience under their belts.

    Most CDL training schools also partner with trucking companies to offer their students real-life on-road tests during internships.  

    Job Opportunities

    Illinois boasts a variety of industries ranging from goods manufacturing, agriculture, gas, oil, among others. All these are fast-paced consumer commodities requiring transportation to different areas within the state and across borders.

    There’s always a truck driver shortage in Illinois, and there is fear that soon, truck drivers may start quoting their prices.

    Better Remuneration

    Illinois falls among the top states with the highest truck driver salaries. Besides, a trucking career in Illinois offers growth opportunities, whereby drivers can upgrade their CDLs or add other endorsements and boost their chances of earning higher wages.

    Job Outlook and Salary For Truck Driving in Illinois

    Illinois has a promising trucking job scene with a projected average of 0.6% annual occupational demand across all trucking occupations.

    According to Indeed trucking career reviews, truck drivers can expect to earn higher wages according to their level of experience, whereas entry drivers with less than a year earn an average of $71,280 per year.

    Seasoned drivers with more than ten years of experience can expect to earn up to $85,718 on average per year. These wages may also be higher or lower depending on the company and city.

    What is the Demand For Truck Drivers In Illinois?

    The demand for truck drivers in Illinois is expected to grow steadily within a span of one decade (2014-2024). There is an estimated 0.8% annual average growth in heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers over the same period.

    How Much Do CDL Drivers Make in Illinois?

    CDL drivers earn differently according to their level of experience, skills, city, mode of operation, plus different companies have different compensation plans. The average salary for a CDL driver in Illinois is $75,914 per year.

    Conclusion 

    Illinois is among the best states in the US to start a trucking career if you meet the state’s CDL requirements. The state prides itself on up to 81 certified CDL training schools and many industries and companies to absorb successful CDL graduates.

    However, unlike most states in the US charging $50 for a CDL license, you’ll need to part with up to $60 to apply for an Illinois CDL. Still, it’s a worthy investment for a career with many advancement opportunities, a shorter training period, and a higher earning potential.

    People Also Ask

    Obtaining an Illinois CDL follows a list of requirements applicable to Illinois residents and aliens alike. These requirements may vary slightly depending on a few factors. Below are common questions people ask about Illinois CDL requirements.

    How Many Questions Are on the Illinois CDL Test?

    An Illinois CDL test consists of 50 questions. One must get at least 40 questions right to attain the 80% passing score.

    When Do You Need a CDL in Illinois?     

    You’ll need a CDL to operate any of the below vehicles:

    • A single vehicle weighing more than 26,001 pounds and towing a vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds.
    • A single vehicle or vehicle combination where the single vehicle weighs over 26,0001 pounds and pulling a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or below.
    • Any single vehicle or vehicle combinations not meeting the definitions of Class A and B CDLs and are designed for transporting 16 passengers, including the driver, or for transporting hazardous materials.

    How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a CDL in Illinois?

    One must be 18 years and over to get a CDL to operate a CMV within Illinois state lines and 21 years and above to drive a CMV across Illinois state lines.

    The 21 years age limit also applies to those who intend to operate vehicles transporting materials considered as hazardous or those who wish to operate passenger vehicles.

    Where Can I Get a CDL Study Guide in Illinois?

    A CDL study guide is available for download or online viewing from the Illinois Office of Motor Vehicles.

    How Do I Transfer My CDL to Illinois?

    Drivers who wish to transfer their CDL to Illinois must take and pass the Illinois CDL written test. You must also provide proof of legal status in Illinois and self-certify your interstate or intrastate medical driving status.

    Those declaring as non-excepted interstate (NI) drivers must provide an appropriate medical certificate approved by the Illinois State Police.

    Photo credit: ttnews.com

    What New Illinois CDL Laws Changed in 2020?

    Below are new Illinois CDL law changes in 2022 affecting Entry-Level Training (ELDT) across all CDL classes (A, B, and C):

    • No minimum number of hours behind the wheels—you can take longer or shorter depending on your learning speed
    •  Training will include basic truck operations like understating all control systems, including dashboard tools, handling distracted driving, and knowledge of roadside inspection
    • 19 behind-the-wheel skill tests and 31 theory topics
    • Mandatory CDL training school approval by FMCSA

    Note: The laws only apply to first-time drivers in the industry.



    After spending years on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the hardships that came with the trucking industry. I realized there was an opportunity to lend a hand a create a resource for truckers by truckers. With the help of my tech-savvy son, I built Trucker Geek as a way to show people that becoming a driver doesn’t need to be a stressful headache.