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How to Get A CDL in Michigan (A Complete 2022 Guide)

How to Get A CDL in Michigan (A Complete Guide)

If you’re planning on getting a CDL in Michigan, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Because each state has a different set of requirements and steps, it can be hard to pinpoint what you need to do to get a CDL in Michigan. 

Well, in this article, we’ll give you a complete guide on how to get a CDL in Michigan. We’ll list all the steps in an easy-to-follow format. Plus, we’ll give you all the other details and requirements that you should know. 

With this, you won’t have any more questions about what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. 

So shall we? 

CDL Classes in Michigan

One of the first things you should know is what kind of CDL you need. 

In Michigan, there are 3 CDL classes or groups. These are: 

  • Class A CDL
  • Class B CDL
  • Class C CDL

Let’s take a closer look at each of these and see what commercial motor vehicles (CMV) they allow you to operate.

Class A CDL

A Class A CDL gives you the most flexibility because it allows you to drive all types of CMVs, provided that you have the right endorsement. 

However, if you want to be more specific, a Class A CDL can operate combination CMVs with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,0001 pounds. The towed unit should weigh more than 10,000 pounds. 

Examples of these are big rigs and double trailers.

Class B CDL

A Class B CDL can operate straight CMVs with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,0001 or heavier. It can also tow a unit, but that should weigh fewer than 10,000 pounds.

Examples of Class B vehicles are dump or box trucks. Large buses, such as those used in cities and tours, fall into this category, too.

You can also operate Class C vehicles with a Class B CDL (again, you should have the right endorsement), but not those that fall under Class A.

Class C CDL

For combination or straight CMVs that have a GVWR of fewer than 20,0001 pounds and tow a unit fewer than 10,000 pounds, a Class C CDL is required. 

Examples of Class C vehicles are those that can carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) and those that transport hazardous materials. 

One more thing. A Class C CDL will almost always need an endorsement. 

CDL Endorsements in Michigan

Okay, we’ve been mentioning endorsements above, so let’s quickly explain what these are.

Endorsements on your CDL mean you received specialized training and knowledge about a vehicle or cargo type.

In Michigan, there are six endorsements available:

  • P — if you’re driving a commercial vehicle designed to transport passengers.
  • S — if you’re driving a school bus.
  • T — if you’re operating double trailers (Side note: Michigan doesn’t allow triple trailers).
  • N — if you’re driving a vehicle with permanently-mounted or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons.
  • H — if you’re transporting hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.
  • X — replaces the N and H endorsements if you qualify for both.

If you’re planning on driving any of these commercial vehicles, you need to get the right CDL class for it, as well as the endorsement. 

CDL Requirements in Michigan

Before tackling the steps on how to get a CDL in Michigan, let’s ensure that you qualify for one. 

We’ve put together a list of requirements — see which ones you can check off:

  • Must meet the age requirement (18 to drive intrastate, 21 to drive interstate)
  • Must fulfill the health requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or be able to show proof of legal presence
  • Must be a resident of Michigan
  • Must not have a license in more than one state
  • Must have active driving privileges
  • You should not have any 6-point violation within 24 months of applying.
  • You should not have your driving privileges suspended or revoked within 36 months of applying.
  • Must demonstrate proficiency in written and spoken English

Focus on the requirements that you weren’t able to check off. You’ll need to comply with those before moving on to the next step.

However, if you’ve met everything, you’re good to go!

How to Get Your CDL in Michigan

There are two parts to getting a CDL in Michigan. First, you need to get your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). Then, you need to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL).

It may seem overwhelming, so let’s break down each part. 

How to Get Your Michigan CLP

Here are the steps to getting your CLP in Michigan: 

  1. Identify the CDL class you need. You might also need an endorsement(s) depending on your vehicle or cargo.
  1. Ensure you meet all the requirements listed in the section above.
  1. Enroll in an FMCSA-approved Entry-Level Driver Training program. You need to comply with this requirement if any of these apply to you:
  • You’re a first-time applicant for a Class A or Class B CDL
  • You’re a first-time applicant for an H, P, or S endorsement
  • You’re upgrading your CDL to a higher class (for example, from a Class B to a Class A)

NOTE: You don’t need to complete the program before moving on to the following steps, but you must have covered specific topics to take the written exam. For example, if you’re applying for an H endorsement, you must have completed the hazardous portion of the program before taking the knowledge test.

  1. Pre-apply for a Commercial Permit in the Michigan Department of State’s online portal. 
  1. Schedule a visit to a Secretary of State’s office. 
  1. On your scheduled visit, bring the following with you:
    1. Your valid driver’s license
    2. Your online application form (if given)
    3. A filled-out Commercial Driver’s License Certification form
    4. DOT Medical Card (unless exempted)
    5. Proof of identity
    6. Proof of Social Security Number
    7. Proof of legal presence in the U.S.

NOTE: Click here to see the kinds of documents you can use.

  1. Pay the necessary fees:
    1. Standard CDL – $25 
    2. Enhanced CDL – $45
    3. Endorsements – $5 each ($10 for the X endorsement)
  1. Pass the necessary knowledge tests. 

NOTE: Besides the general information exams for your CDL class, some CLP endorsement(s) you’re applying for has their own test. 

  1. Receive your Commercial Learner’s Permit.

And you’ve completed part one!

Now you can practice driving a commercial vehicle under your CDL class. However, a licensed commercial driver with the same license class as yours must supervise you at all times.

How to Get Your Michigan CDL

Once you have your CLP, use your time wisely — any experience being behind the wheel can help you get through the second part of the process.

That said, here are the steps to getting your official CDL in Michigan: 

  1. Hold your CLP for at least 14 days. 
  1. Complete your ELDT program. 

NOTE: You may have been able to get your CLP before graduating from the program, but it is a requirement to be finished before you can take the skills test.

  1. Schedule your CDL road skills test with a third-party Driver’s License Business. Check your local telephone book for a number and location. 

NOTE: You must do this at least two days in advance.

  1. On your scheduled date, bring the following:
    1. Proof of identity
    2. CLP
    3. ELDT certificate of completion
    4. A CMV under your CDL class with proof of registration and insurance (if you don’t have any, you can rent one)
  1. Pass all three parts of the CDL skills test.
  1. Go to a Secretary of State branch and submit:
    1. Proof of identity
    2. Proof of Social Security Number
    3. Proof of legal presence in the U.S.
    4. Your CLP
    5. Your passing CDL skills test score
  1. Get your commercial driver’s license.

Congratulations! Now you can officially begin your career as a commercial driver.

FAQs

For even more information, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about CDLs in Michigan. 

How many questions are on the Michigan CDL permit test?

The number of questions depends on two things:

  • Your CDL class
  • Your endorsements

Here’s a quick guide on how many questions to expect.

CDL General Knowledge Test:

  • Class A — 70 questions (20 are specifically for combination vehicles)
  • Class B and Class C — 50 questions each

Endorsements:

  • P, S, T, and N — 20 questions each
  • H — 30 questions

Is the Michigan CDL test hard?

The Michigan CDL test consists of three parts:

  • Pre-trip inspection
  • Basic vehicle control
  • On-road driving test

You must pass all three to get your CDL.

How much is the CDL test in MI?

The cost of your CDL skills test will depend on the third-party provider. So make sure to ask them the price before you set a schedule. 

How long is CDL school in Michigan?

There is no minimum duration for the Entry-Level Driver Training program in Michigan, which is technically a CDL school. However, most trucking schools’ curriculums include 160 hours, including classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction.

How much does it cost to get a CDL in Michigan

Getting your commercial license might be expensive, especially if you attend a private CDL school. Here’s a breakdown of your estimated expenses:

  • Licensing fee: $25 to $45
  • Endorsement (if applicable): $5 each ($10 for X endorsement)
  • CDL skills test: varies between providers
  • CMV rental for CDL road test: average of $500 but varies between provider
  • CDL school: average cost of around $6,200

That comes up to almost $7,000. 

However, there are several ways to manage your expenses. 

For example, you can use your own CMV, so you don’t need to rent one from a third-party testing provider. For CDL school, you can explore financial aid or look for a company-sponsored program.

The Wrap Up

That’s all there is to it, folks — everything you need to know about how to get a CDL in Michigan. 

Yes, it may seem like a lot, but if you take it one step at a time, we’re sure you’ll have your CDL in no time.

Good luck!

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