CDL License Requirements & Training in Tennessee ::

CDL License Requirements in Tennessee

Starting on your journey to becoming a commercial driver can be an exciting and slightly overwhelming decision at first, but that’s why we're here to help! In an industry that holds safety in the highest regard, you won’t want to overlook any details. 

To start, you must be at least 18 years old to acquire your commercial driver’s learner’s permit and eventually your license. Since the U.S. Department of Transportation regulates interstate transportation, it is required that drivers crossing state lines be at least 21. Next, you’ll need to pass a vision test in addition to providing an up-to-date physical examination. 

After meeting these basic requirements, all CDL applicants need to pass a general knowledge exam and skills test. These will include a pre-trip vehicle inspection, a basic vehicle knowledge test, and a hands-on test during which you’ll actually be operating a commercial vehicle. It’s important to note that you will be required to take your road test in the exact same vehicle (or at least type of vehicle) that you are attempting to earn a license for, whether it’s a Class A, B, or C CDL. Any endorsements for special skills or clearances will also require additional courses and testing.

Find CDL Training Schools in Tennessee

With the trucking industry demanding professional drivers with more quality credentials, finding the right Tennessee CDL school will really help to set you apart from the herd. You’ll also be sure to gain all of the necessary technical knowledge and skills required for a career as a commercial driver. Gaining an education can also help to open up other opportunities in the transportation industry besides driving, such as management, working in logistics, or other administrative roles. You can start your search for CDL Schools in Tennessee and get a leg up on the competition today!

CDL Training Costs in Tennessee

Although the cost of a CDL training program will vary from one state to the next, the average tuition in Tennessee is $4,000. The prices of education will vary based on many factors and depend on the type of program you enroll in, as well as any additional courses you may be taking to obtain endorsements. Tuition costs usually encompass the materials you’ll need for your courses, as well as your time spent in the classroom and behind the wheel. 

As is the case with most college programs or formal training, students are able to apply for FAFSA student aid in order to cover some of the initial costs of tuition. Other sources of assistance may come in the form of a federal Pell Grant, which can be awarded through participating institutions. 

Another very popular option is to enroll in a company-sponsored training program. In this scenario, a trucking company will actually pay for you to go through the entire process and then hire you upon graduation. You will then work to reimburse them during a period of time until you are able to transition into making a consistent salary. If you’re absolutely serious about becoming a commercial driver in Tennessee this is a great option considering that it requires a strict financial agreement.

CDL Prep in Tennessee

Preparing for your CDL tests is all about spending enough time to learn all of the material and technical knowledge needed for when the time comes to prove your skills. Studying hard and reviewing your coursework is never a bad idea, but when it comes to taking your actual written test you may want to get a feel for the real deal by using our Practice CDL test! With this resource, you’ll be able to plan how much time it takes to finish the test, and learn what type of questions you can expect! 

Beyond the written test, it’s also necessary to practice your driving portion in the same vehicle that you’ll use to complete your final road test. Students without access to a heavy truck may want to consider a rental option for consistency. Otherwise, a company-sponsored program will likely provide the appropriate vehicles in order to take your road test.

Tennessee CDL Endorsement & Waivers

While you’re working toward completing all of Tennessee CDL requirements, it may be useful to consider whether acquiring any specialized knowledge in the form of endorsements will pay off to your benefit. Receiving these special skills will open up new job opportunities and allow you to handle more types of vehicles and cargo. These are the most common endorsements found throughout Tennessee and the rest of the United States:

  • School Bus - S
  • Passenger - P
  • Tank Vehicles - N
  • Double/Triple - T
  • Hazardous Materials - H
  • Combination Tank / Hazardous Materials - X

Similar to the way endorsements are added to a commercial driver’s license, there is also a system of waivers or restrictions. These waivers indicate to road officials and employers the limitations you have as a driver. This can include the inability to operate certain types of braking systems, transmissions, or even specific trailer connections. Others may include medical exemptions and other past violations.

CDL Tests in Tennessee

Once the time arrives and you’re ready to take your final tests, it’s best to know what to expect. The many hours spent hitting the books and practicing your driving are about to pay off! These tests will cover everything it takes to be a commercial driver – below is a preview of what you can expect:

CDL Knowledge Tests in Tennessee

Similar to when you tested for your personal driver’s license, you’ll be required to answer around 50 questions that cover a wide range of information regarding commercial driving techniques and road rules. Other topics include how to handle equipment, proper loading and unloading procedures, and many other basics. It’s required that you earn an 80% or above to pass – then you’ll move on to your skills and road tests!

CDL Skills Test in Tennessee

Apart from the written test, instructors will test your knowledge and familiarity with your class of vehicle, as well as how well you now the proper procedures for handling cargo, utilizing your braking system, and other processes involved during transport. This will also include going over your pre-trip inspection tests and whether you’re able to determine if your vehicle is safe to operate. 

Finally, all that’s left is your road test where you’ll be asked to perform turns, backing up, changing lanes, and identify traffic signs in order to respond safely and effectively. Doing well in this portion is essential to your overall success since it really demonstrates your skill as a driver. Instructors love to see that you’re confident in your abilities, especially if they’re the ones sponsoring your education!

Job Outlook in Tennessee

Considering that the current driver shortage is growing more severe each year, this can be your chance to step up as one of those sought-after professionals! In many cases, the issue is the candidates’ quality rather than quantity, so getting a solid education can really help to launch your career on the path to success. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for trucking jobs is set to increase 5% from now until 2024, meaning there will only be more opportunities available as time goes on. Meeting all of the Tennessee CDL requirements and earning your license is ultimately a great career move that will provide a safe salary for years to come!

Tennessee Truck Driver Salary

Based on the most recent BLS information, the average annual trucking job salary in Tennessee is $41,680. Even though pay rates will vary from one state to the next, gaining more experience will allow you to move on to better positions and earn higher wages. With additional endorsements on your license, you’ll be able to operate more types of vehicles and haul more cargo as well. Start planning your trucking career by browsing for Tennessee Commercial Driving Jobs today and keep your future moving forward with!