In today’s economy, there is demand for commercial truck and bus drivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Driving a commercial vehicle requires specialized knowledge and experience as well as a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL.
The two most popular classifications of CDL are CDL-A and CDL-B. As you explore your career options in the transportation industry, this guide will help you identify the main differences between these two classes of commercial license.
According to federal standards, if your vehicle weighs over 26,000 lbs (excluding trailers), you need a Commercial Drivers License (or CDL) to drive it.
A CDL-A is required if your trailer weighs over 10,000 lbs. Most commercial trailers meet this weight requirement, including tractor trailers, truck and trailer combinations, double and triple trailers, tractor trailer buses, tanker vehicles, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.
Combination vehicles (or a truck pulling a trailer) almost always meet the weight requirements for CDL-A. These vehicles and trailers often require greater training and skill to maneuver.
The CDL-A credential is the most versatile certification for careers across the transportation industry, including:
- Heavy truck drivers
- Over-the-road (OTR) drivers
- Semi-truck drivers
- Tractor trailer operators
If you hold a CDL-A, you are also authorized to operate CDL-B vehicles, which expands the range of driving jobs you will be qualified for.
The Class B CDL is a more limited certification, qualifying the driver for jobs that specifically require operating lighter weight commercial vehicles. If you only drive straight trucks, box trucks (like delivery trucks), large buses, or dump trucks with small trailers, you may only need a CDL-B.
These driving jobs are typically more limited in geographical area and good for those who enjoy commercial driving, but also prefer to stay close to home.
CDL Training at Delta Technical College
CDL-A training is what most people are referring to when they talk about truck driving school.
In the CDL Training Course at Delta Technical College, you will learn the entry-level skills for employment as a licensed CDL-A truck driver. Through hands-on experience and classroom theory, Delta Tech’s 20-day CDL training program teaches students truck driving procedures and techniques through classroom instruction and real-world experience by driving large commercial vehicles on the driving range.
In the classroom, instructors teach you relevant transportation topics including driving safety, state CDL requirements, how to operate air brakes, and more.
At the on-site range, you will learn how to operate and drive a commercial vehicle, including parking, backing, docking, managing speed and space relations. You’ll also learn how to handle driving hazards, including various driving and weather conditions.
For more in-depth training over the course of 20 weeks, Delta Tech’s Professional Truck Driving Program  covers a wider range of topics beyond basic commercial driving skills. Training subjects include trip planning, hazardous material training, loading and unloading your trailer, forklift operations, truck maintenance, weigh stations, life on the road, and more.
Upon completion of the training, graduates will be prepared to pass the state CDL written and driving exams. Graduates will be eligible for entry-level employment as a licensed CDL-A truck driver, and qualified for a variety of careers within the transportation industry.
The CDL Training Course and Professional Truck Driving Program are offered at both the Horn Lake and Ridgeland, MS campuses. To learn more, contact the Admissions Team today!