Are you interested in a career in the transportation industry? Or does your employer require you to have a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL?
Understanding the main difference between CDL-A and CDL-B will help you to know which license you need to get to become a commercial truck driver.
First, it is important to start with the technical definitions of CDL-A and CDL-B:
|CDL-A and CDL-B Defined|
Class A CDL or CDL-A
● According to federal standards , a CDL-A allows the driver to operate any vehicle with a semi-trailer or a trailer with two or more axles.
● This includes any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) greater than 26,000 pounds, provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the towed vehicle is greater than 10,000 pounds.
Class B CDL or CDL-B
● A CDL-B allows a driver to operate any straight vehicle with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds.
● Also any vehicle towing another trailer or vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds. 
To break it down, if your commercial vehicle weighs over 26,000 pounds (excluding trailers), you need a Commercial Drivers License or CDL, to drive that vehicle. Driving commercial requires greater knowledge, experience, and physical ability than simply driving a car.
If you are pulling a commercial trailer that weighs over 10,000 pounds (most commercial trailers do), you will need a CDL-A. Combination vehicles, such as tractor trailers or semi-trailers, always meet the requirements for CDL-A.
A CDL-B is typically only for lighter vehicles, such as a straight truck or bus.
We’ll now explore common vehicles and careers for CDL-A and CDL-B, and the benefits and considerations for each.
Why should I earn a CDL-A?
To operate the following vehicles, drivers are required to hold a CDL-A commercial license. These vehicles and trailers often require greater training and skill to maneuver:
- Tractor trailers
- Truck & trailer combinations
- Double and triple trailers
- Tractor trailer buses
- Tanker vehicles
- Livestock carriers
Common careers for CDL-A operators include heavy truck drivers, over the road (OTR) drivers, semi truck drivers, and tractor trailer operators.
If you hold a CDL-A, you are also authorized to operate any vehicle needing a CDL-B license . This allows you to operate a wider variety of commercial vehicles and have broader career opportunities as well as increased earning potential.
Why should I earn a CDL-B?
A CDL-B commercial license is required to drive the following vehicles:
- Straight trucks
- Box trucks (like delivery trucks)
- Large passenger buses (school, city, tourist)
- Dump trucks with small trailers
If your job only requires operating one of these vehicles, you may not need to earn your CDL-A.
Finding one of these transportation jobs and holding only a CDL-B may be ideal for those who want to work in a more limited geographical area (stay close to home), or if trucking is not a long-term job.
CDL Training at Midwest Technical Institute
The first step toward earning your CDL-A is enrolling in a commercial driving training program. In Midwest Technical Institute’s 20-day CDL Training Course, students learn truck driving procedures and techniques through classroom learning and hands-on experience. The training includes the following:
- Classroom theory focusing on state CDL requirements, driving safety, combination vehicles, air brakes, trip planning, and more.
- Practical experience operating commercial vehicles on the driving range to learn driving skills such as backing, parking, docking, managing speed and space relations, how to handle driving conditions, driving hazards, and more.
After completion of the CDL Training Course, students will be prepared to take the state CDL exam and qualify for their license.
MTI also offers a more in-depth Professional Truck Driving Program,  which takes 20 weeks to complete. The program prepares students to be eligible to obtain entry-level employment as a licensed CDL-A truck driver and be qualified for a variety of careers within the transportation industry. MTI offers the CDL Training Course and Professional Truck Driving Program at our Springfield, Missouri campus.
Learn the skills needed to earn your CDL today! Contact our Admissions Team to learn more about MTI’s CDL Training Course and Professional Truck Driving Program.