How to Get A CDL in Ohio (A Complete 2024 Guide)

How to Get A CDL in Ohio

Getting a commercial driver’s license can seem a bit daunting… 

The process is long…

The requirements are many… 

Not to mention that the steps vary among states. It’s easy to lose your way if you don’t know what to expect. 

But we’re here to help. 

We’re going to give you a simple but complete guide on how to get a CDL in Ohio. We’ll give you all the essential information, including CDL classes, endorsements, requirements, and all the steps. 

We’ll even answer some frequently asked questions. 

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away!

CDL Classes in Ohio

Commercial driver’s licenses come in three classes:

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

You’ll need the right class to operate your commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Let’s ensure you get the correct one by exploring them further. 

Class A CDL

A Class A CDL gives the most flexibility, making it a popular option among commercial drivers. After all, you can drive all CMV types with it, even Class B and Class C (of course, you need the proper endorsement to go with that). 

But if we’re talking about a Class A CDL specifically – it can operate combination CMVs with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds. The unit it tows must be heavier than 10,000 pounds. 

Flatbeds, double or triple-trailers, and semis are examples of CMVs requiring a Class A CDL. 

Class B CDL

If you’re not planning on driving combination vehicles, then maybe a Class B CDL is more suited for you. 

This can operate heavy, straight CMVs with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of more than 26,000 pounds. These CMVs may also carry a load, but that should not exceed 10,000 pounds. 

Examples of Class B CMVs are dump trucks, box vans, or large city buses. 

Although you can’t use it to drive a Class A CMV, it allows you to operate those in Class C (again, you need the proper endorsement for this).

Class C CDL

The first two classes might give you the impression that all CMVs are large and heavy. However, some CMVs have a GVWR lower than 26,000 pounds — these fall under Class C.

That said, the CMV should be designed to carry 16 or more people. The same goes if your vehicle needs to display a placard to transport large quantities of hazardous materials.

CDL Endorsements in Ohio

Driving certain CMVs or carrying certain loads requires specialized knowledge. 

An endorsement on your commercial license proves you’ve acquired it — and are thus allowed to operate or transport it. 

The following endorsements are available in Ohio:

  • T — for double or triple trailers
  • N — for tank vehicles
  • H — for hazardous materials
  • S — for school buses
  • P — for passenger vehicles
  • X — for tank vehicles carrying hazardous materials

Remember, each endorsement requires an additional knowledge exam when you apply for it. 

Also, you can only have N, S, and P endorsements on your CDL permit. You can apply for the rest when the BMV issues your CDL.

CDL Requirements in Ohio

A CDL has more eligibility requirements than a standard license. 

Check these out and mark off the ones that apply to you:

  • You are a U.S. citizen (or can prove legal presence)
  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You have an Ohio-issued Class D license
  • You have a valid Social Security Number
  • You are a resident of Ohio
  • You must pass the FMCSA’s medical requirements for commercial drivers.
  • You can speak and write in English

So, how many checked boxes do you have?

If you marked everything off, you can start working towards your CDL. If you didn’t, ensure you prioritize these items first. 

The Steps to Getting A CDL in Ohio

Getting your CDL can seem complicated and overwhelming. 

Well, guess what? It isn’t.

However, it can be confusing if you’re unsure what to do.

Don’t worry – we divided the process into two main objectives:

  • Getting your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
  • Earning your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Here are the steps…

How to Get Your Ohio CLP

First, let’s work on your CLP. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Work on your eligibility. Remember, you can’t proceed with your application until you’ve checked off every box in the list above.
  1. Decide on the following before you begin your application:
    1. Your CDL class
    2. What endorsements you need
  1. Choose which Ohio driver exam station you’d like to visit. IMPORTANT! check whether they offer CDL knowledge exams and if appointments are required or not.  
  1. Bring documents that prove the following information:
    1. Your name, date of birth, and legal status
    2. Your residence in Ohio
    3. Your Social Security Number

Click this link to see which documents are acceptable. 

  1. Pass the CDL knowledge test and any endorsement test (if any).
  1. Go to a deputy registrar license agency and bring:
    1. The same documents from Step 4
    2. CDL Self-Certification Authorization (Form BMV 2159). You can find the form here.
    3. Medical Examiner’s Certificate (if applicable). You can see if this is required from your self-certification. 

NOTE: You can also self-certify online. If so, you will need to create an account with the BMV online service portal

  1. Apply for a CLP.
  1. Pay the permit fee of $28.50.
  1. Receive your CLP.

NOTE: Your CLP remains valid for six months. One renewal is possible if you didn’t complete the steps for a CDL issuance during that time.

With a CLP, you can get experience behind the wheel. However, you cannot operate a CMV alone. A commercial driver with the correct CDL class must supervise you.

Of course, that goes without saying that you must only drive a CMV under your CDL class. 

How to Get Your Ohio CDL

Your next goal is to get your official CDL. 

Here’s how you do that:

  1. Ensure you’ve had your CLP longer than 14 days.
  1. Complete the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) program from an FMCSA-accredited provider.

The ELDT is mandatory for all applicants who are in the following situations:

  • They’re first-time applicants for a Class A or Class B CDL
  • They already have a Class B CDL but want to upgrade to a Class A
  • They need an H, S, or P endorsement and are getting it for the first time
  1. Schedule your CDL skills test at a CDL skills testing location or third-party facility. 

Testing fees vary depending on whether you choose a state-owned or third-party facility.

If you choose a state-owned testing facility, you must pay the following amounts at a deputy registrar license agency to get a CDL Test Receipt:

  • Pre-trip inspection: $10
  • Basic test: $10
  • Road test: $30

If you choose a third-party testing facility, pay the following on-site:

  • Pre-trip inspection: $27
  • Basic test: $27
  • Road test: $61
  1. Bring the following on your CDL skills test schedule:
    1. Your valid CLP
    2. Your Class D Ohio license
    3. A commercial vehicle to use for your skills test. It must be in the appropriate category as the CDL class you’re getting.
    4. Your CDL Test Receipt (if you’re at a state-owned facility)
  1. Pass all three parts of the CDL skills test.

NOTE: If you fail, you must wait two days before attempting to retest. You will also need to reschedule and repay the fees. 

  1. Visit a deputy registrar license agency and do the following:
    1. Apply for a CDL
    2. Submit proof of name, date of birth, legal status, Ohio residence, and SSN 
    3. Pay the following fees – $43.50 (4-year CDL) OR $86.00 (8-year CDL), and $44.50 for each endorsement
    4. Give up your CLP
    5. Receive your CDL

Wouldn’t you know it? You’ve finished!



As promised, we’re going to go over a few frequently asked questions about CDLs in Ohio. So let’s begin…

How much does it cost to get a CDL in Ohio?

You will have to spend quite a bit to get a CDL in Ohio. 

Let’s break down the cost for you:

  • CLP fee – $28.50
  • ELDT program – averages at $5,000
  • CDL skills test – $50 (for state-owned test centers) OR $115 (for third-party facilities)
  • CDL fee – $43.50 (for a 4-year CDL) OR $86.00 (for an 8-year CDL)
  • Endorsement fee – $44.50 each

That totals around $5,300. So prepare to save this amount before you apply for a CDL. 

Does Ohio pay for CDL training?

Yes, the ELDT program is not cheap. 

However, you can find programs that are willing to pay for your training. 

Ohio’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides adults over 18 with the required skills and credentials. This way, they can either get a job or advance their careers. 

Some trucking schools, like Napier, work with it to provide financial assistance to aspiring commercial drivers.

How long does it take to get a CDL in Ohio?

You can get your CDL in Ohio within six months to one year. The following factors may cause your timeline to lengthen:

  • Whether you need to renew your CLP
  • How long it takes to complete ELDT
  • Whether you pass your required CDL tests on the first try or not

How much do CDL drivers make in Ohio?

ZipRecruiter puts the annual average salary of commercial drivers in Ohio at $52,937. That’s almost 8% lower than the national average of $57,491.

What disqualifies you from getting a CDL in Ohio?

The following can lead to a CDL disqualification:

  • Refusing to take an alcohol or blood test when pulled over for a DUI
  • Having a BAC level higher than 0.04%
  • Failing to stop after an accident
  • Causing a fatality due to negligent operation of a CMV
  • Using a CMV to commit a felony
  • Committing severe traffic violations, such as tailgating, driving without a CDL, or exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 15 mph
  • Committing a railroad crossing violation
  • Operating a CMV after receiving Out-of-Service orders

Do you need a CDL for a truck under 26,000 lbs with air brakes in Ohio?

No. Although most people think it’s a requirement, you don’t need a CDL to operate a truck with a GVWR of less than 26,000 pounds, even if it has airbags.

How much can you haul without a CDL in Ohio?

When your vehicle has a weight rating of over 26,000 pounds, you automatically need a CDL, regardless of how heavy your load is.

What’s more, you need a commercial license if the combined weight of your vehicle and towed unit exceeds 26,000 pounds. Otherwise, a Class D license will do.

The Wrap Up

And that is how to get a CDL in Ohio. 

See? Getting a commercial driver’s license in Ohio isn’t so complicated. 

Yes, there are many steps and requirements. 

But if you follow them one by one, you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a commercial driver in the state. 

Good luck!

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