Pennsylvania CDL License Requirements – Easy Guide

| Last Updated: December 15, 2021

Pennsylvania promises great remuneration benefits and high job security for those who meet its CDL requirements. The state has a very high trucker shortage across all its cities. 

Companies are willing to pay as high as $78,000 average salaries per year for an entry-level driver in a bid to keep them for the long term.

However, to qualify, one must meet the Pennsylvania CDL requirements that include passing knowledge and skills tests, among other basic requirements. Below we dive deeper into the CDL requirements details.

How to Get a CDL in Pennsylvania

Obtaining a Pennsylvania CDL involves meeting a list of requirements as prescribed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transport (PennDOT). These include:

  • Age requirements
  • Residency proof requirements
  • Medical requirements
  • Knowledge and skills requirements
  • Legal fees requirements, among other specifications, as may be required.

PA CDL Requirements

Below is a detailed list of Pennsylvania commercial driver’s license requirements.

1. Age Requirements

  • The minimum age of 18 is mandatory for obtaining a CDL to operate within Pennsylvania state lines (intrastate).
  • You must be at least 21 years or older to operate a CMV across the Pennsylvania border (interstate), operate a vehicle transporting hazardous materials (HazMat), or drive a vehicle carrying more than 16 passengers, the driver included.

2. Residency Requirements

You must provide proof of identity and lawful Pennsylvania residency through the following legal documentation:

  • Social Security Number Card
  • US Birth Certificate
  • Green Card or a valid US passport for non-US citizens

3. Medical Standards

A valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate after completing the following tests:

  • Vision test: A driver must see at least 20/40 on each eye using assistive devices or without. You must be able to differentiate traffic colors including, red, green, and amber
  • Hearing test: You must be able to hear a forced whisper at least 5 feet away
  • Blood pressure: The blood pressure should be 160/100 at most. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows the use of prescription drugs to achieve the 160/100 threshold
  • Pass urinalysis test
  • People with diabetes are only permitted to use medication or diet to control the condition—no insulin injections
  • Blood sugar levels must not exceed 200
  • Prescription drugs with adverse effects on CMV operations are not allowed
  • CDL applicants must consent to alcohol or controlled substances testing

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4. Knowledge and Skills Requirements

  • Complete the knowledge test to obtain a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP)
  • Pass endorsement tests such as HazMat ( others may depend on the driving you intend to pursue)
  • Pass the Pennsylvania CDL skills test

5. CDL Fees

You must pay the CDL fee of $94.50. However, other charges such as renewal fees, CDL endorsements, restrictions removal, CDL upgrades, among others, may also apply as per PennDOT prescriptions.

6. Other Certifications

  • Certifying that your driving privileges are not canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified in Pennsylvania or any other state in the US
  • Must possess one valid regular Pennsylvania driver’s license or a license from any other state for out-of-the-state applicants.

How Much Does It Cost To Get a CDL in Pennsylvania?

The following charges apply for a Pennsylvania CDL.

  • CDL Fee: $94.50
  • CDL with HazMat endorsement: $110.50
  • HazMat endorsement: $30.50
  • CDL class upgrade: $14.50
  • Removing restrictions: $14.50
  • CDL replacement or changing of address: $29.50
  • CDL fees for drivers aged 65 years and above (valid for two years): $52
  • CDL fees for drivers aged 65 years and above (valid for two years) with HazMat: $68

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How to Get a CDL Permit in PA

After thorough preparation, one must take a CDL knowledge test to receive a CDL Permit. You can download the application form from the Pennsylvania DMV website and take your test online.

How Much is a CDL Permit in PA?

A Pennsylvania CDL Permit fee varies by the number of endorsements you intend to test for. Typically, it costs between $60 and $80. The permit is valid for a year to allow for ample time for CDL training and skills test preparation.

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

On average, it will take you about seven weeks to get your Pennsylvania CDL while attending full-time classes. Otherwise, the period can be as long as six months or as little as three weeks, depending on various factors.

Commercial License Types & Classes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania CDLs fall under the following three classes.

Class A CDL

A Class A CDL permits the operation of any vehicle combination with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds (Ibs) or more and towing a unit with a gross weight of more than 10,000 lbs.

Class A CDL holders can also operate all vehicles listed in Class B and C.

Class B CDL

A Class B CDL applies to any one vehicle or vehicle combination with a gross weight of 26,001 lbs or more, and the gross weight of the unit being towed exceeds 10,000 lbs.

Class B CDL holders can also operate all vehicles listed in Class C.

Class C CDL

A Class C CDL is required to operate any single vehicle or vehicle combination designed for carrying 16 passengers or more, including the driver, or specialized vehicles for transporting materials marked as hazardous by FMCSR.

PA CDL Endorsements

CDL endorsements permit you to operate specific types of vehicles a typical CDL holder may otherwise not operate.  

Besides, the additional skills also position you for a higher earning potential and quick career advancement.

Below are the CDL endorsements in the state of Pennsylvania. 

  • H – Permits the holder to operate vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
  • N – Required for tank vehicles.
  • X – Required for tank vehicles transporting hazardous materials
  • P – Permits the driver to operate any vehicle transporting passengers
  • S – Permits school bus operation (the S endorsement card must be renewed every year)
  • T – Authorizes the operation of doubles and triple trailers

What Makes Pennsylvania a Great Place to Start a Truck Driving Career? 

Pennsylvania offers many reasons to start a trucking career. Here’s what you should know about trucking in Pennsylvania.

High Job Security

Pennsylvania has very rough terrains, including plateaus, valleys, and mountains. Employers are always looking for skilled and well-trained drivers who can maneuver these contours. Drivers who qualify have a high level of job security alongside better remunerations.

Thriving Trucking Industry

Pennsylvania is home to more than 62 truck driving schools offering up-to-date CDL programs by qualified and passionate instructors.   

The state is also home to many trucking companies that partner with these schools to give internships and job placements for students who excel. Most students reportedly get up to six job offers before graduation.

Competitive Pay

Pennsylvania offers highly competitive salaries to truck drivers. An entry-level truck driver with less than one year of experience can make up to $78,613 per year. The state has an average salary of more than $83,700 per year, 13% more than the average national salary.

Job Outlook and Salary For Truck Driving in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers impressive salaries for both entry-level and seasoned drivers. The more skills, such as CDL endorsements, the higher your chances of earning even higher.

Below is the salary outlook for truckers in Pennsylvania

  • Entry-level drivers with less than one year experience: $78,613
  • Mid-level drivers with 6 to 9years of experience: $89,391
  • Seasoned drivers with more than ten years experience: $94,536

The state houses many trucking companies that are always in constant need of new drivers. 

Remember that skilled drivers who can maneuver the rough Pennsylvania terrains are in higher demand than an average truck driver. Employers are willing to pay more to retain such talents.

What is the Demand For Truck Drivers In Pennsylvania?

Truck driver demand has remained extremely high over the years in Pennsylvania. The unfilled driver shortage has forced PennDOT to increase truck operation hours from 60 hours to 70 hours with a period of seven days of driving to allow drivers to deliver more goods. 

How Much Do CDL Drivers Make in PA?

Truckers with many years of experience earn more than their entry-level counterparts. Other factors determining Pennsylvania CDL driver salaries include skill, city of operation, route type, and mode of operation. Different employers also have different compensation plans.

According to Indeed, the average salary for a CDL driver in Pennsylvania is $83,724 per year.

Conclusion 

Pennsylvania offers a favorable environment for anyone looking to start a professional trucking career. The state houses more than 62 training schools, several trucking companies, and pays above national average salaries in cities such as Philadelphia and Bedford.

However, the first step to a successful career as a truck driver in Pennsylvania includes meeting the below requirements.

  • Minimum age requirements
  • PennDOT medical standards
  • Legal residency requirements
  • Passing knowledge and skill tests
  • Posses one regular drivers’ license
  • Meeting all the legal fee requirements, among all other PennDOT requirements that may apply.

People Also Ask

Familiarizing yourself with the list of all CDL requirements is a critical step before kick-starting the application process. Here, we address common questions people ask about Pennsylvania CDL requirements.

What Disqualifies You From Getting a CDL in PA?

A Pennsylvania CDL can be disqualified under any of the following violations:

  • Major offenses: Attracts at least one-year disqualification and up to three years for HazMat vehicles on the first conviction. A repetition of the violation may lead to lifetime disqualification.
  • Serious offenses: A first-time violation may not attract disqualification, but fines may apply. A second violation leads to up to 60 days of disqualification. Your CDL will be disqualified for not less than 120 days on a third violation.
  • Railroad-highway grade crossing offenses: The first violation attracts CDL disqualification for 60 days.

A second violation within three years leads to CDL disqualification for 120 days, whereas the third violation within three years attracts CDL disqualification for not less than a year.

  • Out-of-service order offenses: First offense transporting non-hazardous materials leads to one-year disqualification. A second or subsequent offense in ten years attracts up to three years of disqualification.

The first offense for Hazmat vehicles or vehicles transporting passengers attracts two years of disqualification. A second or subsequent violation within ten years will lead to up to five years of CDL disqualification.

How Long is a PA CDL Permit Good For?

The Pennsylvania CDL permit is useful for one year from the date issued. 

Typically, Pennsylvania CDL itself will last for four years. The Pennsylvania Department of Transport (PennDOT) will send you an “Invitation to Renew’ notification three months before the expiry date.  People aged 65 and above renew their CDLs after every two years.

Can You Get a CDL With a DUI in PA?

A DUI charge can remain in your driving record for up to ten years. Although it may not prevent you from getting a CDL, it can significantly cost you driving jobs from some employers.

Still, it’s important to note that first-time DUI convictions can lead to CDL disqualification for up to 12 months. The duration extends to three years for vehicles transporting hazardous materials. A second or third violation leads to lifetime disqualification.

Where Can You Find the PA CDL Practice Test?

Taking CDL practice tests is the best way to set yourself up for success in the main CDL examination. Students can download the PA CDL Practice Test for free from the Pennsylvania DMV Practice Test website.

When Do You Need a CDL in PA?

You’ll need a CDL to operate any of the following vehicles in Pennsylvania:

  • Any single vehicle weighing 26,001 lbs or more and towing a unit weighing more than 10,000 lbs.
  • Any single vehicle or vehicle combination that weighs 26,001 lbs or more and pulls a unit weighing less than 10,000 lbs.
  • Any passenger vehicle designed to carry 16 or more people, the driver included, or any vehicle used to transport hazardous materials.

How Many Questions Are on the PA CDL Permit Test?

The Pennsylvania CDL Permit Test has 50 questions. You must answer at least 40 questions correctly—equivalent to 80%, the passing score.



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.