Calling all aspiring truck drivers in Louisiana…
Are you wondering how to get your CDL in the state?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’re going to talk about everything you should know — from what CDL class you need to all the requirements and steps to getting your CDL.
With this guide, you won’t be left with any more questions.
Plus, we’ll include an FAQ section for even more information.
So welcome to your complete guide on how to get a CDL in Louisiana.
Louisiana CDL Classes
When working towards a CDL, it’s crucial to know which class you need.
In Louisiana, there are three CDL classes:
- Class A CDL
- Class B CDL
- Class C CDL
Let’s break these down into details.
Class A CDL
Combination commercial motor vehicles (CMV) require a Class A CDL. Most heavy trucks, such as semis or big rigs, fall under this category.
Now, you need this CDL class if the CMV you will drive has a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,001 pounds. It must also tow a unit weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
Carrying a Class A CDL gives you the most flexibility as it allows you to operate Class B and Class C vehicles as well (with the right endorsements).
Class B CDL
If you’re driving a single CMV with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, you need a Class B vehicle. If the CMV is towing a unit, it should weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
Some Class B vehicles are large buses (such as city or tour buses) and straight trucks.
With the right endorsements, you can drive Class C vehicles, too. However, Class B doesn’t allow you to operate CMVs classified as Class A.
Class C CDL
You consider CMVs to be Class C (and thus require a Class C CDL) if one of these applies:
- The CMV weighs less than 26,001 pounds. If towing a unit, it should weigh less than 10,000 pounds
- The CMV is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver
- The CMV is used to move hazardous materials in quantities enough to require placarding
Louisiana CDL Endorsements
Okay, now that you know what CDL class you need, let’s move on to endorsements.
These signify that you acquired specialized knowledge or training regarding your CMV or the load you’re transporting.
NOTE: each endorsement has its own set of knowledge exams.
In total, there are six endorsements available to Louisiana commercial drivers. However, you can only add three to a CLP (commercial learner’s permit). These include:
- Passenger (P) Endorsement — Drivers who operate vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, need this endorsement. Anyone who wants to drive a bus must apply for it.
- School bus (S) Endorsement — It’s specifically for applicants who want to drive a school bus, regardless of whether it classifies as Class A, B, or C.
- Tank (N) Endorsement — It’s for vehicles designed to transport tanks with an individual capacity of 119 gallons, or can accommodate 1,000 gallons or more. These are typically used to transport liquid or gaseous materials.
You can only get the remaining three endorsements after you get your CDL (commercial driver’s license). These are:
- Double and Triple Trailer (T) Endorsement — For vehicles that pull said units. Typically, drivers operating Class A CMVs need it.
- Hazardous Materials (H) Endorsement — For vehicles that transport hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.
- Combination Hazardous Materials and Tank (X) Endorsement — For tank vehicles that carry hazardous materials.
Louisiana CDL Requirements
Just like any license type, you must comply with some requirements before you’re eligible to apply for a commercial driver’s license.
Go through the list below and see how many of these you can check off:
- You are at least 18 years old (You must be at least 21 to make out-of-state trips, carry passengers, or move hazardous materials)
- You have a valid driver’s license and active driving privileges
- You are compliant with the medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
- You are a U.S. Citizen. If not, you must have permission to work in the United States
- You are a resident of Louisiana
- You must be able to converse and write comfortably in English
Any unchecked boxes mean you still have work to do before applying. However, if you’re good with everything, let’s move on to the next step…
How to Get Your CDL in Louisiana
In Louisiana, you go through two stages when you want a commercial driver’s license:
- Earning your commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
- Getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL)
Let’s go through the steps for both stages.
How to Get Your Louisiana CLP
Just like a regular driver’s license, you must first get a permit. In this case, you must get a commercial learner’s permit.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Ensure you meet all the requirements listed in the previous section.
- Determine what CDL class you need and whether or not you should apply for an endorsement (remember, you can only get 1 of 3 on your CLP — the rest can only be taken after you have a CDL).
- Prepare and present the following documents during your scheduled date:
- Pass the written portion of the CDL exam.
- Pay the appropriate fees:
- CLP application fee: $15
- Endorsement (if applicable): $7.50 each
- Service fee: up to $6
And there you have it — your CLP.
It’s valid for 180 days, but you can renew for another 180 days if you need additional time.
However, ensure that you make good use of your time. You can spend it completing CDL school or practicing. If you opt for the latter, make sure an adult licensed CDL driver is always with you.
How to Get Your Louisiana CDL
Now that you have your CLP, your next goal is to get your CDL.
These are the steps you must complete:
- Complete the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) program as required by the FMCSA if any of the following apply to you:
- You are applying for a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time
- You are applying for an H, S, or P endorsement for the first time
- You are upgrading your Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
- Hold your CLP for at least 14 days.
- Take the skills portion of the CDL exam and pass all three parts (pre-trip inspection, basic controls, and road skills)
NOTE: You must pay $100 to the third-party tester for your skills exam. You have to pay even more if you rent a CMV from them to take the test.
- Go to an OMV office.
- Surrender your CLP.
- Pay the CDL fee of $61.50 ($76.50 if you’re from New Orleans).
You are officially a licensed commercial driver in Louisiana.
As promised, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions to give you even more information.
So let’s go!
How long does it take to get a CDL in Louisiana?
Getting your CDL can take as long as a year, depending on how long it takes you to complete the requirements. Remember, if you need more time, you can renew your CLP for another 180 days.
However, if everything goes as planned, you can get your CDL within two months. Most trucking schools run for 160 hours spread over four weeks.
How much does CDL training cost in Louisiana?
There are more than enough trucking schools in Louisiana, and each prices its programs differently. However, the average tuition for CDL schools is around $2,514.
How do I get my CDL training for free in Louisiana?
Trucking schools come in two types — private (or paid) and company-sponsored.
An example of the latter is Stevens Transport. It sponsors Class A CDL school for aspiring commercial drivers in Louisiana, which allows you to get your CDL training for free.
Well, not free FREE — there are pay-offs. For example, some companies will shoulder the cost of trucking school if you work with them for a specific number of years once you get your commercial license.
How many questions are on the CDL test in Louisiana?
The written portion of the CDL exam consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you need to get 40 items correct.
What can I expect from the CDL skills test in Louisiana?
The driving portion of the CDL exam in Louisiana has three parts:
- Pre-Trip Inspection: You must demonstrate knowledge about whether or not the commercial vehicle is safe to drive.
- Basic Vehicle Control: You must be able to do basic driving controls, such as moving your CMV forward and backward. Your examiner may also ask you to make turns in defined areas.
- On-Road Test: It is similar to the second part of the skills test but involves more complicated maneuvers. Examiners will ask you to drive your CMV on nearby roads or highways so you can navigate intersections, railroad crossings, multi-lane roads, or highways.
The Wrap Up
And that concludes your complete guide on how to get a CDL in Louisiana.
As you can see, getting your CDL isn’t as complicated as you might have expected. You just need to follow the steps one by one, and you’ll be on your way to being a licensed commercial driver in the state.
So what are you waiting for?
Now that you know what to do, go ahead and apply for your CDL.