What is CDL(Commercial Driver’s License) and How to get one in Massachusetts 

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required to operate large vehicles, transport hazardous materials, or carry more than 16 passengers. In this blog, you will learn what a CDL is, the different classes of CDL licenses, and the requirements for obtaining one in Massachusetts. 

What is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

A CDL stands for  Commercial Driver’s License is a specialized type of license that is necessary for individuals who plan to operate large vehicles such as trucks, buses, and other vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, in the United States. A CDL is not just a regular driver’s license; it demands a higher level of knowledge, skills, and physical fitness to operate these large and potentially hazardous vehicles safely. 

Obtaining a CDL requires meeting certain eligibility requirements, passing written and practical tests, and maintaining ongoing compliance with medical and CDL regulations.

To obtain a CDL license in Massachusetts, you must first determine which class of license you need based on the type of vehicle you plan to operate. 

Different Types of Classes in CDL

Class A

Per the Department of Motor Vehicles regulations, any driver who intends to operate a vehicle with a total weight of 26,001 pounds or more is required to obtain a Class A license. This type of license enables the driver to operate a variety of large commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles. The Class A license also allows the driver to tow a trailer weighing over 10,000 pounds, in addition to the weight of the vehicle being driven.

Class B

A Class B license is a type of commercial driver’s license required for operating vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or less but with a trailer weighing over 10,000 pounds. This license allows the driver to operate single vehicles or combinations of vehicles, such as a tractor-trailer or a bus, that fall under this weight limit. The driver must pass a knowledge test and a road skills test to obtain a Class B license, which is necessary for commercial driving jobs that involve operating such vehicles.

Class C 

In the United States, a Class C driver’s license is required for operating vehicles that do not fall under the Class A or Class B categories. These vehicles are designed to carry hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers, such as a small bus or a van used for commercial purposes. To obtain a Class C license, one must pass a written knowledge test and a driving skills test, and meet other state-specific requirements such as age and vision standards. It’s important to note that the requirements for a Class C license may vary by state, so it’s recommended to check with your local DMV for specific information.


An endorsement on a CDL is an additional qualification that is included in a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and enables the driver to operate particular types of commercial vehicles or transport certain types of cargo. It’s similar to adding specialized abilities to your driving capabilities.

Once you have determined the appropriate class of CDL license, you must complete a series of steps that include obtaining a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), undergoing a medical examination, and passing a series of written and driving tests. It is important to note that the CDL application process can be complex and may require significant preparation and study.

What is a Commercial Learner’s Permit?

 A commercial learner permit (CLP) is the first step towards getting your CDL. It is a permit to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) under the supervision of a licensed CDL holder before getting a full CDL.

How to Get CDL in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you need to meet some requirements. You must be at least 18 years old to operate a commercial vehicle, but you must be 21 years old to transport hazardous materials, carry passengers, or drive across state lines.

To be eligible for a CDL, you must have a clean driving record without any suspensions, revocations, or cancellations. You are also not allowed to hold more than one driver’s license.

You must pass a set of written exams that cover CDL regulations, vehicle operation, and safe driving practices before getting your Massachusetts Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP).

You must meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) medical standards to ensure that you are physically capable of driving safely.

You must provide proof of citizenship in Massachusetts and proof of permission to work in the United States, such as a Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, or Green Card.

You cannot be subjected to any CDL disqualifications.

To communicate effectively while driving a commercial vehicle, you must be able to speak and read the English language.

How Long Does it Take to Get a CDL?

If you want to become a professional truck driver in Massachusetts, you need to attend CDL training classes. The duration of the classes can go from as little as 3 weeks to six months. But, on average, it takes about seven weeks depending on how much time you can dedicate to it. It will depend on what type of CDL you want to get training. For example, if you are opting for a class A license which lets you drive a wider range of commercial vehicles, it might take you a bit longer to complete the training. Also, the type of additional endorsements you add to your CDL will affect the overall time to get a CDL.

At CMSC, we offer comprehensive CDL training programs designed to equip you with everything you need to confidently achieve your commercial driving goals. Our experienced instructors, state-of-the-art facilities, and flexible scheduling options cater to a variety of learning styles and preferences. We guide you through every step of the journey, from choosing the right CDL class to preparing for tests and searching for your first commercial driving job.


Who needs a CDL license in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, anyone driving a large commercial vehicle (over 26,000 lbs or carrying hazardous materials) needs a CDL license.

What is CDL self-certification Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, CDL self-certification is when you verify you meet medical standards to operate a commercial vehicle without needing a formal medical exam. You choose the category that fits your driving (intrastate, interstate, etc.) and self-declare you meet its health requirements. Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure accuracy, as false statements carry penalties.

What class is a regular license in Massachusetts?

Class D. In Massachusetts, a regular driver’s license for operating passenger vehicles, vans, and small trucks is a Class D license.

How long does it take to get your CDL in Mass?

The duration of the classes can go from as little as 3 weeks to six months. But, on average, it takes about seven weeks depending on how much time you can dedicate to it. It will depend on what type of CDL you want to get training.