To start your career as a trucker, you need to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To do this, you will need to take two exams: a written test and a skills test. Once you pass the written portion of the CDL test, you’ll earn your commercial learner’s permit. This is also known as a CLP or a CDL permit. Getting your commercial learner’s permit is a key step in your trucking training.
When Do You Earn Your CLP?
You will earn your commercial learner’s permit after taking and passing the general knowledge portion of the written CDL test. The test is multiple choice and you must get 80% of the questions right in order to pass. The CDL exam covers basic information about commercial vehicle safety and operation.
To remove the air brakes restriction and earn endorsements, you will need to take additional tests. Students take these written exams at the same time as the general knowledge test. They are not required to earn a CLP, but having endorsements on your license opens up more career opportunities.
Documentation Requirements For Your CDL Permit
In Arizona, you will need to provide the following before you can get your CLP:
- Documentation of a current Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination
- Social security card
- Valid operator’s (driver’s) license
- Two documents (one with a photo) demonstrating authorized presence in the United States, or three documents with no photos (Note: you can see the full AZDOT requirements for these documents here)
- Name change documents, if applicable
What Does a Commercial Learner’s Permit Allow You to Do?
With a CDL permit, you can operate a commercial vehicle on public roadways while under the supervision of a CDL holder in the passenger seat. The person supervising your driving must have a license for the specific type of vehicle you are driving.
Once you have your commercial learner’s permit, you’ll be able to get the on-the-road experience that is necessary to prepare for the CDL skills test.
When Does a CLP Expire?
In Arizona, a CDL instruction permit is valid for six months. If you are not able to take and pass your skills test by this time, it may be necessary to retake the written test in order to renew your CLP.
How Do You Get Your CDL After Earning Your Permit?
You must wait 14 days after earning your commercial learner’s permit to take your skills test. This exam assesses your driving ability. It includes a pre-trip inspection, drills to test basic vehicle control skills, and on-the-road driving. Once you pass all portions of the skills test, you must provide your scores, driver’s license, and CLP to the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to receive your CDL.
CDL Training vs Self-Teaching
It is possible to study for and earn your commercial learner’s permit on your own, but it is often difficult to get the supervision and support you need to practice driving a commercial vehicle after this point. When you attend truck driving school, you will have the opportunity to learn from experienced instructions. Additionally, you will have access to job placement assistance and other valuable resources. Many trucking companies also prefer to hire drivers who graduated from a CDL training program as opposed to those who are self-taught.
Prepare For Your CDL Test
If you are ready to get started, Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help you earn your commercial license in as little as four weeks. We help prepare you for the written test and then transition into hands-on training for your skills exam.