How to Get a CDL A in Arizona
Trucks are the foundation of commerce in the United States. Without truckers and trucking companies, consumers wouldn’t have access to many of life’s necessities.
When you choose a trucking career, you’re joining an essential industry with an excellent long-term future and a good income. The average annual salary for an Arizona truck driver is $48,670 per year, pretty much the same as the nationwide national average of $48,710.
However, before you can work as a truck driver, you must get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Arizona. Here’s what you need to know about getting your Arizona CDL, including requirements, fees, test information, and more.
Types of Arizona Commercial Driver’s Licenses
There are three classes of CDLs in Arizona, depending on the weight of the vehicle you intend to drive:
- Class A: This is for trucks and trailers with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, or if the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 10,001 pounds or more.
- Class B: This CDL applies to any vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. Class B CDLs allow drivers to tow a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or fewer.
- Class C: This license enables drivers to operate vehicles with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less that are placarded to transport hazardous materials or that transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver).
If you want to drive heavy tractor-trailer vehicles, you’ll need to get your Class A CDL.
Arizona CDL Requirements
In order to earn your Arizona CDL, you first need to meet several requirements.
CDL Age Requirements for Arizona
You must be a legal adult to get a Class A CDL. The minimum age for getting a CDL in Arizona is 21, but if you’re 18, you can apply for an intrastate CDL that is only valid for driving within the state. If you’re not yet 21, an intrastate license is an excellent way to gain experience while you wait to get your full CDL. In addition, drivers under 21 may not transport hazardous materials.
Arizona CDL Instruction Permit
If you’re applying for your first CDL in Arizona, you have to get an instruction permit that allows you to operate vehicles requiring a CDL. These permits are good for six months and allow you to practice your driving skills before taking the road test. You’ll need the following items to get your permit:
- A completed Medical Examiner Certificate showing that you have had a current physical examination by a licensed doctor, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse.
- A Social Security card
- A valid operator license
- Acceptable forms of ID, which may include your birth certificate, passport, and other approved forms
- Proof of citizenship or legal residence
- Proof of one year of driving experience in a vehicle other than a motorcycle.
If you have questions about this documentation, contact the Arizona DOT before showing up for your test.
Arizona CDL Endorsements
Although Arizona offers multiple endorsements for truck drivers wanting to expand their knowledge and qualifications, they do have some specific regulations for drivers who pursue a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) or passenger (P) and school bus (S) endorsements:
- HME: Applicants must pass the HME knowledge test, then complete a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check.
- S and P: Applicants must take their CDL test in the appropriate bus or school bus to obtain these endorsements. School bus drivers need to have both endorsements to operate a school bus.
Getting a CDL in Arizona
Obtaining your CDL in Arizona includes paying fees and taking both knowledge and road tests to show that you have the skills to work as a commercial driver.
It’s important to note that beginning February 7, 2022, all new CDL A and CDL B applicants, including those looking to upgrade from a CDL B to a CDL A or seeking school bus, passenger, or hazardous materials endorsemens, must receive truck driving training from a certified organization listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry. This training curriculum on theory, range, and road topics sets the minimum training requirements for entry-level drivers.
Fees for a CDL in Arizona
Before taking any CDL test, you must pay the required fees. These include:
- Class A or B permit, no endorsements: $25
- Class C permit: $12.50
- Doubles/triples trailers endorsement: $10
- Tank endorsement: $10
- Passenger endorsement: $10 ($5 if you’re adding it to an existing CDL)
Arizona CDL Knowledge Testing
You’ll want to carefully study the Arizona Commercial Driver License Manual before taking your test. Your truck driver training program can also help you prepare to earn your Arizona CDL.
To pass the exam, you need to answer 80% of the questions correctly. If you fail the test, you must wait until the next day to retake it. You may not bring cell phones, electronic dictionaries, or any other person (including children) into the testing area.
Arizona CDL Road/Skills Testing
You have several options when you’re ready to take the road/skills portion of the test. You can take the test at an MVD CDL office or from an approved third-party MVD-certified tester. You must provide your own vehicle, which should match the class of vehicle you will drive commercially.
The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends carefully reviewing chapters 11, 12, and 13 of the Arizona Commercial Driver License Manual before taking the road skills test to maximize your chances of passing the first time.
Renewing Your Arizona CDL
Your Arizona CDL is good for eight years. When it’s time to renew your license, you can usually renew it online. If you need to do it in person, schedule an MVD appointment and present the same documents as when you originally took your test.
Renewing your CDL will cost $15 for a Class A or B license and $10 for a Class C. If you need to renew an HME, the cost is $10, and you’ll have to take a knowledge test.