To become a truck driver in US roads, the driver needs to have a driving license.
But not all driving licenses are the same.
Whether you work as owner-operator or company driver, some are commercial driving licenses and others are non-CDL.
So, you might wonder what are the differences between a non-CDL driving license and a CDL driving license?In reality, there are different types of motor vehicles requiring a special driving license. And understanding these differences will help you also understand when do you need a cdl to drive box truck and when not.
Below, find the meaning of a non-CDL and CDL and what are the main differences between these CDL types.
What is a non-CDL?
Simply speaking, individuals with a non-CDL license are allowed to mostly straight trucks that are light while CDL drivers operate mostly tractor-trailers.
The United States requires drivers to get a regular non-CDL license for personal, recreational, and professional driving purposes.
For example, taxi drivers, food delivery drivers, and small truck drivers don't need a CDL to do their job by driving vehicles.
What is a commercial driver license?
A commercial driving license holder who usually is a OTR truck driver is is allowed to operate commercial vehicles to make money as a truck driver.
For example, the U.S. government requires you to obtain a CDL to drive any vehicle that weighs over 26,001 pounds or to transport over 15 people, carry hazardous material, have a tanker, or hauls a double or triple trailer.
The difference between non-CDL and CDL drivers
1. Difference by type of driven vehicle
With a non-CDL driving license, you are limited in the number of vehicles that you can operate mostly sedans and light-weight trucks.
A class A license allows you to drive any vehicle you want.
CDL drivers can operate garbage trucks, cranes, or other heavy-duty vehicles.
2. Difference by scope of the driving license
Non-CDL licenses are used mainly by drivers who drive vehicles for their personal use.
However, there are situations when non-CDL drivers can operate a light-duty vehicle to make money as a rideshare driver or hauling small loads locally.
The most money in the trucking industry is made by drivers who own a CDL license.
Mostly, drivers who get a CDL license want to work as an OTR truck drivers or as HotShot truck drivers for compensation in the trucking industry.
3. Difference by GVWR mark
You are ok using a non-CLD license if you operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or less. That includes the combination of the truck weight, the freight weight, and the trailer weight.
Because of that weight limitation, you are limited in terms of how much income you can make as a truck driver.
Find out what is a GVWR on a truck.
You need a CDL to operate any vehicles that have a GVWR above the 26,001 pounds mark.
That gives CDL drivers more opportunities to make money by taking on more loads.
4. Difference by difficulty of getting the driving license
Non-CDL licenses don't require such rigorous testing of the driver as CDL drivers should.
CDL licenses require specialized training, testing, and medical clearances.
To obtain a CDL license, you need to take a test. It entails questions having to do with air brakes and the operation of other commercial vehicle systems.
5. Difference by type of driving license
Generally, non-CDL drivers have a single form of driving license allowing the driver to driver drive mostly sedans, SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks, or light weight box trucks.
A CDL has three other types of CDL - Class A CDL, Class B CDL, and Class C CDL.