There are many reasons to drive a vehicle. More people are driving now than ever before in history. The need to get from place to place drives many people.

What people often forget is how it also drives our economy.

Commercial driving keeps many businesses working. Many people never realize just how crucial the various types of shipping and driving is required to support economy. Trade wouldn’t flow without it. However, in order to provider that transportation, the drivers need to have a proper license. Driving commercial vehicles is not like driving regular vehicles. The potential for damage to property or other vehicles is very high when driving a large powerful commercial vehicle. Therefore, appropriate training and licenses are necessary. What follows are many of the licenses people need in order to operate commercial vehicles.

CDL License

This is the most common license to drive commercial vehicles. The CDL license stands for commercial driver’s license. Now, there’s actually three different classes of CDL license, so it’s going to break down even more. What’s also interesting is that drivers have to pass a physical every 24 months to prove that they are capable physically of controlling a commercial vehicle.

Class A

The class A license is the first, and is needed for any combination of vehicles with a weight of over 26,000 lbs. This also includes trailers or other weight as well. It’s the gross weight that matters. It also applies when a trailer is over 10,000 lbs.

This will typically apply to most large trucks people see on the road. This includes Tractor-trailers, truck and trailers, as well as double or triple trailers. Vehicles like flatbeds, livestock carriers and tankers also need a Class A license.

Drivers with a class A license might also be able to drive vehicles in the next two categories as well. However, they need to have what is known as “endorsements”, which will be covered later.  

Class B

The class B license is for drivers who are driving huge single vehicles. Rather than the transport trucks of the Class A, these are most commonly typified by large buses and delivery trucks. It’s important to note however, that endorsements will likely be needed to drive many of these.

Class C

The Class C license refers to heavy commercial vehicles which are not covered in the first two classes. The transportation of people in large passenger vans or small buses fits here. There’s also the potential to be transporting hazardous materials.


People who have received their initial class licenses will need to complete endorsements if they wish to drive specific vehicles. This is important because many commercial vehicles require specific skills. Many of the endorsements are:

  • H Endorsement - This endorsement is needed to transport hazardous wastes and materials.
  • N Endorsement - This allows people to drive tanks!
  • S Endorsement - People who wish to drive school buses require this endorsement. They will also need to perform road tests, written tests and pass a background check.
  • T Endorsement - This endorsement is specifically used in order to tow double or triple trailers.
  • P Endorsement  - This passenger endorsement varies by state. It’s required for carrying specific numbers of passengers in a vehicle.

Chauffeur's License

Not all commercial licenses are about transporting large numbers of people or carrying a huge amount of goods. The chauffeur’s license is a great example of a commercial use of driving.

Unlike the CDL license, a chauffeur's license is much easier to obtain. To obtain a chauffeur's license, a written test needs to be completed, as well as payment of the testing fee.