Class A Vs. Class B CDL- Which is Better?

There are various factors to consider when choosing between Class A and B CDL. Check out the difference between Class A & Class B CDL and decide which is best for you.

There are two main types of CDLs: Class A and Class B. While both licenses are crucial for commercial vehicle operation. So, you might already be aware of the two classes of CDLs, but you still wonder which is the better choice for right now. This blog will explore the differences between Class A and Class B CDLs so you can decide which is best for you.

What is a Commercial Driver’s License?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a special type of driver’s license that allows a person to operate large commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles used for commercial purposes. Operating commercial vehicles that transport cargo or people requires specialized training both in the classroom and on the road. Before the training, the student will need to obtain a CLP or Commercial Learner’s Permit to be able to participate in the practical component of truck driving classes, which involves learning how to operate the vehicle. Plus, the student will acquire knowledge and experience in practicing all necessary safety measures, such as inspecting the truck. Once that training has been completed, he or she will take the written exam and driving test to gain a CDL. Part of the responsibilities that accompany having a CDL includes adhering to all DOT regulations.

Types of Commercial Driver’s License?

There are two types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) in the United States: Class A and Class B. Each class of CDL allows the driver to operate different types of commercial vehicles with varying sizes, weights, and cargo capacities. The difference between these two relates to the weight and types of vehicles with the cargo that is allowed for each class. Both types carry their advantages regarding their effect on job prospects and salary. And starting training for either one would start your truck driving career in the right direction.

What is a Class A CDL?

The Class A CDL is a driver’s license required to operate certain types of large commercial vehicles in the United States. The gross weight of the truck and cargo can be 26,001 pounds or more, with a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds or more. With this license, you can drive 18-wheelers or any other Class B or C truck, but you can also operate many types of commercial vehicles if you get endorsements so you can work more places. However, you have to be 21 years of age before obtaining this license.

With a Class A CDL and the appropriate endorsements, you can drive the following types of vehicles:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Semi-trucks
  • Tanker trucks
  • Livestock carriers
  • Flatbed trucks

Advantages of Class A CDL

As you can see, the Class A CDL has numerous advantages such as: –

1. More Job Opportunities

With a Class A CDL, you can drive a variety of commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tankers, and flatbeds. They open up more job opportunities than if you only had a Class B or Class C CDL.

2. Flexibility

A Class A CDL allows you to transport a wide range of cargo, which means you can work for different companies and in different industries.

3. Job Security

The trucking industry is a crucial part of the economy, and there is always a demand for qualified drivers. With a Class A CDL, you can feel confident that you’ll have job security.

4. Higher Earning

Class A CDL holders generally earn more than those with Class B or C CDLs because they are qualified to operate larger vehicles that require more skill and experience.

What is a Class B CDL?

A Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a type of commercial driver’s license that allows individuals to operate a different category of commercial vehicles than a Class A CDL. With the Class B CDL, you can drive a vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds or more with a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds. With Class B, you have more limits in the type of vehicles you can drive but after gaining the proper endorsements, you would be able to drive school buses, dump trucks, cement mixers, and delivery trucks.

With a Class B CDL and the appropriate endorsements, you can drive the following types of vehicles:

  • Box trucks
  • Straight trucks
  • Dump trucks
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Segmented buses
  • Large buses

Advantages of Class B CDL

Whether you’re looking to jumpstart your truck driving career or simply want to drive temporarily, the Class B CDL offers the following benefits.

1. Easier To Obtain

Compared to class A CDL, class B CDL is easier to maintain because they require less training and experience, which makes them a more affordable option for those who are new to the industry or have limited experience.

2. Lower Cost

The Class B CDL generally has training and test requirements compared to class a CDL, which means lower tuition fees and fewer training hours for getting the license.

3. Lower Age Requirement

Some states allow individuals as young as 18 years old to obtain a class B CDL, but a Class A CDL requires drivers to be at least 21 years old.

4. Greater Job Stability

Obtaining a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) can provide job stability in the transportation industry. Like class A CDL, the trucking industry always needs experienced drivers with class B CDL, which means there is a level of job stability associated with this license.

Difference Between Class A CDL and Class B CDL

Class A CDLs are tailored towards driving the largest and most complex commercial vehicles, while Class B CDLs cover operating heavy single vehicles. The choice between the two depends on your career goals, the type of vehicles you want to drive, and the endorsements you may need for specific job opportunities.

The main differences between Class A and Class B Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs):

Training and Testing Requirements

The most significant difference between Class A and Class B CDL is the requirements for training and testing. Obtaining a Class A CDL can be an extensive, lengthy, and costly process due to the complexity of handling combination vehicles and trailers, it requires passing a more comprehensive skills test. In contrast, obtaining a Class B license typically requires less training and testing, as it’s tailored to driving specific types of vehicles.

Cost and Time Investment

Obtaining a Class A CDL typically involves a higher investment of time and money due to the comprehensive training required for handling combination vehicles and trailers. On the other hand, acquiring a Class B CDL generally requires less time and financial investment compared to Class A training, as it focuses on the operation of single, heavy vehicles.

Endorsements and Restrictions

A Class A CDL is often required for specific endorsements such as Hazmat, Tanker, or Double/Triple Trailers. Depending on your state’s regulations, additional testing may be necessary for these endorsements. Conversely, while you can obtain endorsements such as Passenger or School Bus with a Class B CDL, it typically doesn’t cover endorsements related to towing multiple trailers or handling hazardous materials.

Job Opportunities

Lastly, Having a Class A CDL opens up a wider range of job opportunities, including long-haul trucking, regional hauling, freight transportation, and specialized niches such as tanker or flatbed hauling. On the other hand, a Class B CDL provides opportunities in local delivery, municipal transportation, school bus driving, and other roles that require the operation of heavy single vehicles.

How Much Does It Cost to Get A CDL?

Cost to Get A CDL

The cost of getting a (CDL) can depend on various factors, such as the state, type of license, training program, and endorsements. The cost of state fees generally ranges from $50 to $200, while CDL training programs can cost a few thousand dollars up to $10,000 or more. For a standard CDL in Texas, the fee is $61 for a new issuance or renewal. Then the license is valid for the next 5 years and must be renewed for the same fee before it expires.

Which CDL Is Right for You?

Now you already know the difference between class A CDL and B CDLs. In short, if you’re already 21, you would qualify for Class A CDL once you’ve completed your training and have taken the steps to prepare for the tests. On the other hand, if you want to start your career right out of high school or you’re still not sure that truck driving is for you, Class B is an excellent choice. Look no further if you are interested in truck driving classes in Houston, contact Zenith Logistics Institute to find out when the next cycle begins and more about our full and part-time programs.

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