Career Development

Class C License: Definition and How to Obtain It

February 22, 2021

If you're hoping to land a job in which you'll be operating a specific type of vehicle, it's important to consider what driver's license you'll need. One of the more common licenses you can obtain is a Class C license. Understanding what this license is and how to obtain it will help you determine if this is the right license for you.

In this article, we will define a Class C license, the requirements and the steps you'll need to take to obtain it.

Related: CDL Driver Resume Samples

What is a Class C license?

A Class C commercial driver's license (CDL) is the most common type of license and allows drivers to operate vehicles designed to transport fewer than 24 passengers including themselves. This includes single vehicles fewer than 26,001 pounds or towing a trailer with a GVWR fewer than 20,001 pounds.

Related: CDL Certification Guide: Everything You Need To Know

What does a Class C driver do?

A Class C license holder can operate certain types of vehicles. The Department of Motor Vehicles website specifies that drivers with a Class C license can drive the following vehicles:

  • 2-axle vehicle with a gross vehicle weight (GVWR) rating of fewer than 26,000 pounds
  • 3-axle vehicle weighing less than 6,001 lbs gross
  • Housecar 40 feet or less
  • 3-wheel motorcycle with 2 wheels located in the front or back
  • Vanpool vehicle made to carry more than 10 persons, but no more than 15 persons including the driver

The DMV website also states that drivers with a Class C license can tow a single vehicle with a GVWR of fewer than 10,001 lbs. They're also permitted to tow a trailer coach or fifth-wheel travel trailer weighing less than 10,000 lbs as well as a fifth-wheel trailer with a GVWR between 10,000 and 15,000 lbs. If you're a farmer or you work for one, a Class C license will also you to drive vehicles with a GVWR of fewer than 26,0001 lbs if used for farm-related purposes.

Related: Learn About Being a Delivery Driver

Requirements for Class C license

To obtain a Class C license, several requirements will need to be met. It's important to refer to your state's specific requirements. Typically, you'll need to take and pass an exam that tests your general driving knowledge and pass a pre-trip inspection to obtain a general Class C driver's license. If applicable, you may also need to pass the passenger transport test and hazmat test. To pass these tests, you'll need to adequately prepare. Meeting these requirements will allow you to obtain your Class C driver's license.

How to obtain a Class C license

To obtain a Class C license, you'll need to meet certain requirements. Here are the following steps to take when obtaining this type of license:

  1. Determine what your state considers a "Class C" license.
  2. Find out what age you need to be.
  3. Get a copy of the CDL manual for your state.
  4. Fill out a CDL application for your state.
  5. Undergo a physical exam and vision test.
  6. Prepare for the written CDL exam.
  7. Take the CDL exam.
  8. Keep your Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) for the required amount of time.
  9. Complete your state's required training.
  10. Practice driving with a CDL driver.
  11. Take your driving test.
  12. Pay the required fee.

1. Determine what your state considers a "Class C" license

The first thing you'll need to do is determine if this is the right type of license for you. Consider the vehicle you're driving and identify what your state calls the general Class C license. Some cases choose a different term for this general type of driver's license. Doing this will save you the hassle of having to start the process over again if necessary.

2. Find out what age you need to be

To obtain a Class C license, you'll need to meet the age requirements. To drive across state lines in the U.S., you'll need to be at least 21 years of age. Some states will allow you to drive intrastate if you're at least 18 years of age.

3. Get a copy of the CDL manual for your state

It's important to follow the process specific to your state when obtaining your Class C driver's license. You can do this by following your state's CDL manual. Get a copy of this free manual at your local DMV office or online via your state's DMV website.

4. Fill out a CDL application for your state

Next, fill out your state's CDL application. You'll be required to provide your identification information and various history. Also, you may need to provide proof of your identity and residency. This can be done through various bills, copies of your Social Security card and more.

5. Undergo a physical exam and vision test

The specifications for this step will vary by state, however, you'll generally be asked to undergo a physical and vision exam when you apply. The physical exam will test your ability to carry various passengers and cargo.

6. Prepare for the written CDL exam

Next, you should begin preparing for the written CDL exam. Refer to your state's CDL manual as you study for the exam. Each state will have a different test with different formatting and content. You may be required to take additional written exams depending on what you'll be carrying as a licensed driver.

7. Take the CDL exam

After studying for the exam, you'll need to pass it. Make sure you're answering to the best of your ability and showing a deep knowledge of proper driving practices.

8. Keep your Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) for the required amount of time

After passing your CDL exam, you'll need to have your CLP for a minimum of two weeks before taking a driving test. The process for obtaining your permanent license will vary by state, so it's important to follow your state's guidelines. During this time, it's important to practice for your upcoming driving test.

9. Complete your state's required training

Once you've had your permit for the required time, you'll need to complete any training programs required by your state. This can include on-the-road or classroom training. In some cases, your state may require you to complete both. Make sure you're following your state's requirements when it comes to this process.

10. Practice driving with a CDL driver

It's important to practice your driving with a licensed driver. The more you practice driving on the road with supervision, the greater your chances will be of passing the driving test. Ask them questions and allow them to teach you what they know.

11. Take your driving test

Once you've set up a date and time for your driving test, you'll need to take and pass it. The test you take will include a vehicle inspection test, basic controls test and road test.

12. Pay the required fee

After you pass the test, you'll need to pay any required fees. Once you do this, you'll have your Class C driver's license.

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