Tennessee, like all states, has special requirements for drivers of trucks, buses and other commercial motor vehicles. An applicant seeking a career as a commercial driver must generally get a Tennessee CDL license. The Department of Safety administers the state’s testing and license programs for drivers. Applicants first take a knowledge test to get a CDL permit. After getting the permit and hands-on CDL training, applicants can then take a skills test to get a Tennessee commercial driver’s license.
Go to a Tennessee Department of Safety Driver Services Center to get the Tennessee CDL manual. Alternatively, you can study online by going to Tennessee.gov/safety/publications/CDLManual09.pdf. Several online resources also provide valuable CDL materials to help you prepare for the Tennessee CDL test. Search in a search engine for “CDL study guide” and “CDL practice test” to find these resources.
Get a copy of the federal CDL physical-fitness exam form at Fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/forms/649f.pdf. The doctor will give you the required certificate if you pass this physical. You must present it with your application form when taking a test at the Department of Safety Driver Services Center.
Use the Tennessee CDL manual and online resources to study for the written knowledge test. When you pass this test, you can receive a learner’s CDL permit so you can actually train on and drive commercial vehicles.
When studying for a CDL test, you must study the general portions of the manual plus any endorsement sections for endorsement tests that you will be taking. For example, a school bus driver must pass “school bus” and “passenger bus” endorsement tests. The manual explains the vehicles or cargo that require an endorsement exam. Study the whole manual if you want to have a license with no restrictions at all.
Get Tennessee CDL training after getting your Tennessee CDL permit from the Department of Safety Driver Services Center. Examples of available CDL training include school-district training for bus drivers, employers like Greyhound for passenger-bus drivers, training with trucking companies and truck driver training schools. You can get a list of schools that provide truck driver training from the Professional Truck Driver Institute at Ptdi.org/schools/schools.aspx.
Take your skills test at the Tennessee Department of Safety Driver Services Center. If you pass this second skills/driving test, then you can receive a Tennessee CDL license and work as a commercial driver in Tennessee. Licensees who are at least 21 can also drive interstate with a commercial driver’s license.
When testing for a CDL license, you will need to supply your own vehicle or use a third-party testing service. Contact the local testing office for contact information for third-party testers. If you need a vehicle, common sources for a testing vehicle include training schools, employers or rental agencies.
Note that drivers of vehicles hauling hazardous materials must first get a background check and then pass a HAZMAT endorsement test. Go to Hazprints.com to get the ball rolling on the background check.
Tennessee CDL Manual
Truck Driver Training School With Certification