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How to Get Your Dump Truck License: Complete Guide

Owner-operator truck drivers in the United States who want to get a commercial driver's license to operate a dump truck.

5 mins readJanuary 30, 2024

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Welcome to your journey towards mastering the world of dump truck driving! In "How to Get Your Dump Truck License: Complete Guide," we're diving into everything you need to know to snag that coveted commercial driver's license for dump trucks.

This guide is your roadmap, packed with essential info on CDL requirements, the step-by-step licensing process, and insider tips for acing your training. Perfect for ambitious truck drivers ready to rev up their careers, this article is a treasure trove of knowledge.

Stick with us till the end, and you'll be equipped with the tools and confidence to drive your way to success in the dump truck world!

What Can You Do With a Dump Truck License?

A dump truck license is a real gem because it allows you to work in various fields and for different organizations. You'll be sought after by companies that need to transport materials or hauling services.

Let's look at some of the real-world applications of a dump truck license:


IndustryJob DescriptionAmount Earned Per Hour
AgricultureDump truck drivers are in charge of transporting agricultural or farming materials such as fertilizer, soil and fresh harvest. They are responsible for moving these materials between fields, markets and storage facilities. This role is critical in maintaining the value chain of the agricultural process.$45 - 65
ConstructionDump truck drivers transport materials such as asphalt, gravel, sand and demolition waste. They work with contractions in cleanup processes and site preparation. This role is crucial to ensuring the timely and safe delivery of needed materials to and from construction sites.$50 - 70
Garbage RemovalDump truck drivers collect and transport waste and recyclable materials. They work for municipal services or private waste management companies to clean communities and manage the efficient disposal of waste.$40 - 60
PavingDump truck drivers are responsible for transporting paving materials including crushed stone and asphalt. Their role is crucial in road repair and construction. They ensure that all necessary materials are delivered in time and in the right quantities.$50 - 70
Municipality Road CrewsDump truck drivers participate in road repair and maintenance by transporting materials like road salt, dirt and asphalt. They also help with snow removal in the winter. These drivers work closely with local government units to maintain and improve local roads$45 - 65
Truck RentalsDump truck drivers are responsible for pickup and delivery of rental trucks to customers. They also transport rental equipment and offer logistical support to rental companies.$35 - 55

Driving a dump truck is more than just a job; it is a gateway to making good money. If you are willing to move beyond just driving, you can venture into the business side of things. If you take your time to learn how to scale a money-making dump truck business, your driving journey can become a prosperous business venture. Expanding your business into junk removal services can further increase your revenue streams.

Dump trucks

Dump truck businesses are profitable when you know how to steer through waste-related risks. Here you'll find out how to avoid them and protect your dump truck business.

Understanding CDL Requirements for Dump Truck Drivers

Now that we're diving into the CDL requirements for dump truck drivers, let's start with the foundational aspects: the basic eligibility criteria.


Basic Eligibility Criteria


Understanding these criteria is key to ensuring you're on the right track from the very beginning of your journey to becoming a licensed dump truck driver:

  1. Age: The minimum age requirement for a CDL is 18 years for intra-state driving (within a single state) and 21 years for interstate driving.

  2. Education: Obtaining a copy of your state’s CDL manual is essential for understanding the types of CDLs, the application process, and the exams. Either visit your local DMV office to pick up a hard copy of a CDL manual, or find your state and download it.


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3. Physical Exam: Applicants must pass the required Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam, ensuring the driver's health and safety capability. It involves evaluating your general health, vision, hearing, and ability to perform daily duties as a driver.


To pass the DOT physical exam, a driver must meet specific criteria:


  • Vision must be 20/40 in each eye, with or without correction.
  • Hearing capabilities should be sufficient to hear a forced whisper from a distance of 5 feet.
  • Blood pressure needs to be below 140/90 mmHg.
  • No controlled substances/drugs may be found in the driver's body.

The exam typically takes around 30 minutes to complete. The cost of the exam varies depending on the provider but is generally between $75 and $150. Once completed, the results are recorded on the FMCSA Form MCSA-5875. The validity of the exam is up to 2 years, although this period may be shorter if certain medical conditions require closer monitoring.


4. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP): Before obtaining a CDL, you must apply for and receive a CLP. The CLP permits you to operate a dump truck within the same class and with matching endorsements as the CDL you’re pursuing. You must always be under the supervision of a licensed driver with appropriate endorsements - a minimum of 14 days of supervised practice to prepare for safe and skilled commercial driving.


Dump truck driver

Specific Requirements for Dump Truck Licensing

Navigating the complex world of dump truck licensing is crucial for safety and compliance. Let's delve into the specifics:

  • Vehicle Weight: A CDL is typically required for operating a dump truck with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 26,000 pounds on public roads.

  • Type of Dump Truck: Larger dump trucks, often referred to as “semi-end dumps,” which are heavier and carry more material, usually fall into the Class B CDL category. With a Class B CDL, you can operate a dump truck with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.

  • Towing Heavy Dump Trailers: If operating a dump truck that tows heavy trailers where the combined GVWR exceeds 26,000 pounds and the trailer’s weight is more than 10,000 pounds, a Class A CDL might be required.

Quick Facts: Class B CDL Essentials


Unlock the key to a thriving career in heavy vehicle operation with these Class B CDL essentials:


CategoryDetails
Vehicle TypesStraight trucks, large passenger buses, segmented buses
GVWR Requirement26,001 pounds or more, towing vehicles not exceeding 10,000 pounds
Ideal ForDump truck drivers
Training FocusVehicle handling and safety for Class B vehicles
Skills Test ComponentsVehicle inspection, basic control skills, driving test
Employment OpportunitiesDiverse roles in local delivery, passenger transport, and specialized services

How to Get a Class B CDL: Step-y-Step


[INFOGRAPHIC] How to get a Class B CDL

Navigating the Dump Truck Licensing Process

Let's now delve into the next step in the licensing process: the crucial aspects of the application and documentation.


Application and Documentation


The accepted documents to get your dump truck vary by state, so check your state’s DMV website or CDL manual for specifics. Generally, you’ll need to submit the following documentation to apply for a dump truck license:

  • Medical Examination Report Form (MCSA-5875) - download it here.

  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form (MCSA-5876) - download it here.

Note for Military Veterans: Veterans with relevant experience may waive certain written and driving tests. Documentation of military driving experience is necessary.

The Examination Process: Theory and Practical

Let’s break down the two parts of the examination process to get your Class


B CDL: the theory and the practical.


THEORY PART: Obtaining the Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)


To begin the journey of acquiring a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you must first obtain the Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). This process involves several steps to ensure that you have the necessary theoretical knowledge to safely operate a commercial vehicle. Here's an overview of the steps:


StepDetails
Medical ExaminationYou must pass a medical exam and obtain a Department of Transportation (DOT) Medical Certificate. This is to ensure that you can safely operate a commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds used in commerce.
EducationEnroll in and complete a Class B Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) theory program. This program provides comprehensive knowledge about the operation and safety of commercial vehicles.
CLP ApplicationSubmit an application for the CLP after completing the ELDT theory program. This involves providing proof of identity, passing a vision exam, and completing a self-certification form.
Written ExamsPass several written examinations that cover general knowledge, air brakes, and any additional endorsements the applicant wishes to obtain.

Upon successful completion of the above steps, you will receive your CLP, which allows you to proceed to the practical, behind-the-wheel part of the CDL examination process.


PRACTICAL PART: Behind-the-Wheel


This practical part of the examination requires hands-on practice and the ability to demonstrate driving skills. Here's what the practical part entails:


StepDetails
Practical TrainingComplete a Class B ELDT behind-the-wheel (BTW) program through a local provider. This training gives the applicant real-world experience in driving a commercial vehicle under supervision.
Skills TestAfter completing the ELDT BTW program, the applicant must pass a General Knowledge 3-part skills test in a representative Class B vehicle. This test includes a vehicle inspection test, a basic controls test, and a road test.
CDL ApplicationApply for a standard or REAL ID Class B CDL by providing proof of identity and completing any required forms or documentation.
Final StepsThe last step is to surrender the CLP and pass the 3-part skills test. This must take place at least 14 days after obtaining the CLP. Upon passing, the applicant will receive their Class B CDL.

By completing both the theory and behind-the-wheel parts of the examination process, you will be fully licensed to operate Class B vehicles, such as dump trucks in a commercial capacity.

Purchasing a Used Dump Truck: Beginner’s Guide

Fees and Costs to Get Your Dump Truck License

Here’s a breakdown of expenses involved in getting your license to drive and operate a dump truck for commercial purposes:


  1. CDL Training School Expenses: A CDL training program gives you instruction for both the written and practical components of the CDL exam. Prices for a CDL training program will vary depending on the school and the length of the program. You can anticipate spending anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 for this education.

  1. Costs for ELDT Certification: Since February 2022, the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) certification has become a prerequisite for aspiring Class A or Class B CDL holders. It covers both theoretical and hands-on learning. The costs for getting ELDT certification can range from $1,500 to $5,000. For those seeking cost-effective ELDT theory training, there are FMCSA-approved online courses available that also offer a Pass Guarantee.

  1. State Licensing Fees: The fees charged by the state for a CDL license typically range from $50 to $200. This cost includes both the written and practical examination fees.

  1. Endorsement Charges: If your CDL requires additional endorsements based on the specific vehicle you plan to operate, each endorsement may incur a fee ranging from $5 to $50.

  1. Medical Examination Fees: To ensure you meet the health standards for operating a commercial vehicle, you’ll need to undergo a medical exam, which usually costs between $50 and $150.

  1. Miscellaneous Expenses: Keep in mind there may be other costs along the way, such as for study guides, preparatory courses, and any drug or alcohol screenings that may be mandated.
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Training and Preparation for the Dump Truck Licensing Process

Embarking on the path to operating a dump truck professionally requires careful consideration of where and how to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge.


Choosing the Right Training School


There are many factors to consider when selecting a training provider to get your dump truck license:

  1. Accreditation Status: Accreditation ensures training meets industry standards. Look for schools with relevant accreditation, which can signify quality education and may be favored by employers.

  1. Course Content Comprehensiveness: A thorough curriculum is crucial for job readiness. Verify the program covers essential topics like safety, maintenance, and operations to ensure a robust education.

  1. Hands-on Training Opportunities: Practical experience is vital. Choose a school that offers substantial hands-on training with actual equipment to build real-world skills and confidence.

  1. Job Placement Support: Job placement services indicate a school's commitment to your success post-graduation. Assess the school's employment support and graduate success rate to enhance your career prospects.

Top CDL Schools for Dump Truckers


We’ve scoured reviews from many Class B CDL holders to drive a dump truck. Below are the top 5 schools they identified as the best ones to get your license from:


Name of SchoolLocationUnique Selling Points
All-State Career SchoolMaryland and PennsylvaniaPrograms emphasize hands-on experience, offering training from Class A CDL to Advanced Tractor Trailer Driving.
Sage Truck Driving SchoolsMultiple locations across the USOffers in-depth 1:1 teaching arrangements, available in multiple regions, and provides an affordable option with a pre-hire program for immediate job placement after graduation.
Yuma Truck Driving SchoolYuma, ArizonaKnown for small class sizes, quick CDL-A and CDL-B training, financial assistance, military benefits, and a strong job placement program.
Truck Drivers InstituteAtlanta, Birmingham, Columbia, Gulfport, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Orlando, Pensacola, TupeloStudents at TDI receive their Class B CDL training in three phases that span 15 days (three weeks). TDI campuses have private roadways for new truck drivers to learn on safely.
TransTech Truck DrivingMultiple campuses in North CarolinaFeatures a 4-week full-time program with a 4-to-1 student-to-instructor ratio, focusing on hands-on experience and lifetime job placement assistance for graduates.

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Understanding the CDL Written Exams

Knowledge Exam and Road Skills Exam


The CDL written tests cover a broad range of topics. Here’s a quick reminder of what to expect in the Knowledge Exam and the Road Skills Exam:


  1. General Knowledge Test: This is mandatory for all CDL applicants. It encompasses key areas like vehicle operation, adherence to traffic laws, and safe driving practices.

  1. Combination Vehicles Test: For Class A CDL seekers, this test is essential. It focuses on the skills required to drive combination vehicles safely.

  1. Air Brakes Test: If your vehicle is equipped with air brakes, including air over hydraulic brakes, this test is a must. It evaluates your understanding of the correct usage and maintenance of air brakes.

Pre-Trip Inspection Test


After you've completed the Knowledge and Road Skills Exams, you'll need to pass the Pre-Trip Inspection Test. It comprises of multiple-choice questions based on the official CDL manual for your state. Start by familiarizing yourself with the parts of a commercial dump truck:


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Pre-inspection test

You should prepare for your pre-inspection test by doing practice tests. Here are some examples of questions you can expect for the pre-inspection test:


QuestionMultiple Choice
Which of these converts air pressure to mechanical force to operate the brake at a wheel? A. Brake chamber
B. Brake hoses
C. Brake lining
D. Drum brake
What heats the cab and prevents frost from forming on the windshield? A. Header board
B. Heater/defroster
C. Windshield wiper
D. Air conditioner
You are checking for damage to the longitudinal members, cross members, box, or floor. What are you inspecting? A. Fuel tank
B. Exhaust system
C. Frame
D. Doors
Which of these keeps your vehicle from rolling when it's parked? A. Brake lining
B. Locking pin
C. Service brake
D. Parking brake
Which of the following is a way to check the coolant level? A. Check the temperature gauge.
B. Check the dipstick.
C. Check the sight glass.
D. Check the water pump.

Understanding the CDL Practical Exams

You’ll need to do lots of practice tests to get used to the multiple-choice test style and the topics you’ll be tested on. You can find free practice tests on the driving tests website.

Below are a few examples from the General Knowledge Test for the Texas CDL:


QuestionMultiple Choice
When one vehicle is towing another, the connection between these vehicles must not be longer than A. 25 feet
B. 20 feet
C. 15 feet
D. 18 feet
On an open road, maintain a following distance of at least ____ seconds. A. 8 seconds
B. 4 seconds
C. 5 seconds
D. 3 seconds
CMVs weighing _____ pounds or more with metal tires are not permitted on roadways without a special permit. A. 1,000 pounds
B. 3,000 pounds
C. 5,000 pounds
D. 2,000 pounds
If you're being tailgated, you should A. Decrease your following distance.
B. Tap your brakes a few times.
C. Maintain the same speed.
D. Increase your following distance.

Takeaways

  1. Understand Basic Eligibility: Ensure you meet age (18+ for intra-state, 21+ for interstate), education, and physical requirements including passing the DOT physical exam.

  1. Know Specific Dump Truck Requirements: Familiarize yourself with vehicle weight criteria and types of dump trucks to determine if you need a Class A or Class B CDL.

  1. Prepare for Written Exams: Study topics like vehicle operation, traffic laws, and safe driving for the General Knowledge Test, and additional tests for Air Brakes and Combination Vehicles, if applicable.

  1. Practice with CDL Practice Tests: Utilize practice tests that mimic the state’s CDL tests in multiple-choice format to get accustomed to the testing style and topics.

  1. Select the Right Training School: Consider factors like accreditation, course comprehensiveness, hands-on training opportunities, and job placement support.

  1. Complete Required Training: Enroll in and complete necessary Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) for both theory and behind-the-wheel training.

  1. Understand Licensing Costs: Budget for expenses like CDL training school, ELDT certification, state licensing fees, medical examination, and any additional endorsements.

  1. Manage Time Effectively: Balance training with work and personal life; plan your schedule and budget accordingly.

  1. Learn from Industry Experts and Avoid Common Pitfalls: Seek advice from experienced drivers and be aware of frequent mistakes to navigate your career more efficiently.

  1. Beyond Licensing: Once licensed, look into job opportunities and continue growing in the field, adapting to the lifestyle and challenges of a dump truck driver.

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