Alabama CDL License Requirements – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: October 10, 2021

Getting your commercial driver’s license in Alabama is a great way to kickstart your truck driving career, but you must first fulfill all the Alabama CDL license requirements. 

As with any other state, the long list of CDL requirements might scare you away. However, this shouldn’t be the case once you know what is needed and the many great opportunities that await you.

Let’s dive in and see what you’ll need to get your Alabama CDL.

How to Get a CDL in Alabama

Getting a CDL license in Alabama is a straightforward yet rigorous process. First, one must meet the minimum age requirement and get a commercial learner certificate (CLP).

You'll then need to pass the Alabama CDL road skills and knowledge tests. The tests are different depending on the license you want to obtain. Charges also apply differently according to the license you're pursuing.

You must present a fully certified medical examination report for Alabama CDL. But, before issuance of a CDL in Alabama, you'll need to meet several requirements.

Alabama CDL Requirements

All aspiring Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (CMV) in Alabama must meet the requirements below to get a CDL.

  • Age Requirements: Minimum age of 18 years for within-the-state (intrastate) driving, at least 21 years old for outside-the-state (interstate) driving, and minimum 21 years to transport hazardous material (HAZMAT).

  • Proof of Identity: Documented original ID or valid US passport for proof of date of birth
  • CLP: Valid Alabama Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP)
  • Driving Experience: Valid Class D driver's license with proof of non-suspension, license cancellation, or disqualification anywhere else in the US

  • Medical Requirements: Current Medical Examiner's Certificate (DOT Card)

    Self-certify your intention to become an intrastate or interstate CMV driver and whether you will be required to have a medical certificate.

  • A clear passport size photo for the CDL

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDL in Alabama?

The duration you take to get a CDL in Alabama depends on several factors. For instance, it takes an average of seven weeks to get a CDL in Alabama if you're attending a full-time program. Otherwise, it may take as short as three weeks or up to six months.

Who is Eligible for a CDL in Alabama? 

Eligibility for CDL truck driving in Alabama varies for Alabama residents, out-of-state residents, and Non-US citizens. The state has a set of regulatory requirements that CDL drivers must meet to use the roads.

Alabama Resident CDL Requirements

Alabama residents must meet the following requirements to get a CDL in the state:

  • At least 18 years for intrastate (also called in-state or within the state driving)

  • At least 21 years for interstate (state-to-state driving)

  • Possess a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CPL) for not less than 14 days before applying for a CDL

  • Proof of residence, including a Social Security Card, a valid driver's license, and proof of insurance (increase the driver's safety and help avoid CDL fraud)

Out-of-state Resident CDL Requirements in Alabama

Those transferring from other states to Alabama must meet the following requirements to get a CDL in Alabama.

  • A minimum of 18 years for intrastate driving

  • A minimum of 21 years for interstate driving

  • Alabama Class D driver's license

Proof of Identity with documents such as:

  • Alabama ID card

  • Valid U.S. passport

  • U.S birth certificate

  • Certificate of citizenship

  • Certificate of Naturalization

  • U.S Certificate of birth abroad

  • Resident alien card

  • Current foreign passport documented by U.S immigration department

Non-U.S Citizen CDL Requirements in Alabama

Non-U.S citizens seeking Alabama CDL must have permanent U.S legal status and be permanently domiciled in Alabama. The applicants must meet all other requirements listed for Alabama residents and transfers (out-of-state Alabama CDL applicants).

How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL in Alabama?

The cost of a CDL in Alabama varies depending on the CDL class one is pursuing. There is a separate fee for the skill test and knowledge tests. Below is a breakdown of CDL charges in Alabama.

  • Class A CDL - $53.50

  • Class B CDL - $43.50

  • Class C CDL - $23.50

  • Skill Test Fee - $20.00

  • Knowledge Test Fee - $25.00

Note: Processing fees apply to CDL, skill, and knowledge tests in some cities in Alabama.

What CDL Medical Exams Are Needed? 

Potential truckers in Alabama undergo intensive medical exams before getting behind the wheels as CMV drivers. The Department of Transport (DOT) Physicals requires the following tests: 

  • Blood Pressure: The test examines any abnormalities in your blood pressure and pulse rate.

  • Vision Test: The DOT physical tests examine both eyes through several tests, including refractive errors, myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia, among others. If you wear glasses, you'll be asked to distinguish different colors while wearing the glasses and without them.

  • Hearing Test: Hearing tests examine how well a driver can grasp a "forced whisper" using a hearing aid or without from five feet away.
  • Urinalysis: The test is to determine if you've any underlying medical condition that requires attention.

  • Physical Examination: Physical examination comprises a list of tests to determine general body fitness. The tests include, but are not limited to: 

    1. Lungs and chest health
    2. Overall appearance (weight, alcoholism, tremors)
    3. Mouth and throat test (breathing and swallowing)
    4. Neurological balance
    5. Limbs health (loss, weakness, or damage)
    6. Vascular systems
    7. Organs and abdomen
    8. Need for any vaccination for Hepatitis A and B, Influenza, Tetanus, Typhoid/Polio

Upon passing the DOT physical examination, the certification may last between 3 months to 2 years, depending on your health report. Those with serious health problems that may affect their normal operation do not qualify for Alabama CDL.

All CDL applicants must carry any current medication listings or a medical release form indicating you can work with your condition when attending the DOT physical test (including those with some form of disability).

Photo credit: vnmanpower.com

Commercial License Types & Classes in Alabama 

Alabama partners with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to train and license CDL candidates for the below license types and classes.

Class A CDL

Class A license applies to a combination of vehicles with 26,001 pounds or more Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the towed vehicle should exceed 10,001 pounds.

Drivers with Class A CDL can operate all vehicles under class B, C, and D unless a special endorsement is required.  

Class B CDL

Applies to any single vehicle with 26,001 pounds or more Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or any combination vehicle with 26,001 pounds or more GVWR  that tows a vehicle below 10,001 pounds.

Drivers with Class B CDL can operate all vehicles under class C and D unless a special endorsement is required.

Class C CDL  

Any combination of vehicles or a single vehicle that doesn't fall under the definitions of Class A and B and can transport 15 passengers or more plus the driver, or is transporting material considered hazardous as per the Hazardous Material Transportation (HazMat) Act.

Photo credit: driving-tests.org

Class C commercial license holders can drive all Class D vehicles. Class D license is a private non-commercial standard license that all CDL candidates must provide to apply for the CDL. Drivers under this category operate personal vehicles for private matters.

What Are the Alabama CDL Endorsements? 

You need special CDL endorsements to drive particular trucks transporting passengers or specific cargo in Alabama. These include trucks transporting hazardous material, trucks with double or triple trailers, tanker trucks, trucks with air brakes, or school buses.

The state of Alabama offers the following CDL endorsements.

  • Hazardous Material (H): Allows CDL drivers to transport hazardous materials under DOT regulations.

  • Tank Vehicle (N): Allows drivers to transport bulk containers (1,000 gallons and above) containing any liquid or gaseous substances.

  • Tanker/Hazardous Material Combination (X): Allows drivers to transport hazardous materials in tanker trucks.

  • Motorcycle: Authorizes a CDL holder to drive a motorcycle.

  • Double/Triple (T): The CDL holder can operate double or triple trailer haulers.

  • Passenger (P): Authorizes the holder to operate commercial passenger vehicles.

  • School Bus (S): The holder can operate a school bus.

What Makes Alabama a Great Place to Start a Truck Driving Career? 

Those who start their truck driving careers in Alabama have so many prospects to look forward to for an enjoyable trucking career.

Truck Driver Institute in Oxford, Alabama

The state has one of the most expansive and famous training institutes in the industry.

The 15+ acre, modern truck driving school—Truck Driver Institute Oxford, Alabama, is a center of truck driving excellence where CDL students can test for the Alabama CDL license in just three weeks.

Multiple trucking companies surround the school, some with partnerships with CDL training institutes. Successful students get hired straight from school. Others get offers even before graduation.  

Plenty of Trucking Companies

Some trucking companies that thrive around Birmingham, making it a great place to further a trucking career, include P & S Transportation, Buddy Moore Trucking, Montgomery Transport LLC, and  Deep South Freight.  

Other top Alabama trucking companies to find work with include Priority Transportation, J & K Materials and Trucking, AAA Cooper Transportation, and Boyd Bros. Transportation.

Salaries and Other Benefits

Most companies employing truck drivers offer both salary and other benefits to their drivers. Benefits programs include safety or DOT inspection bonus and a monthly performance bonus (referral program).

Additionally, trucking being one of the most important economic activities in the U.S, truck drivers can enjoy job security and high-income potential even for beginners.

Job Outlook and Salary for Truck Driving in Alabama

Trucks are used to deliver most freight in the U.S. The economy needs truck drivers to transport cargo and keep the supply chain flowing. Therefore, as much as more people are willing to spend, the demand for truck drivers will continue to go up.

According to the U.S  Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national growth for CDL driving is estimated at 6 percent between 2020 and 2030, matching the average for all occupations.

An average of 231,100 openings is projected every year over the decade across the U.S. 

The average annual wage for Birmingham, Alabama, CDL drivers is $51,162.

What Is the Demand for Truck Drivers in Alabama?

The Alabama Department of Labor says the demand for CDL drivers will grow at two percent between 2019 and 2029 in Alabama alone, with an average of 30,600 new openings within the same period.

How Much Do CDL Drivers Make in Alabama?

Alabama classifies CDL truck driver's salaries into two—light truck or heavy truck transport.

  • Light truck salary: Light truck CDL drivers, also called delivery or pick-up drivers, mostly do the state's light transportation duties. These drivers don't leave the state and earn about $14.50 median hourly wage or an annual wage of about $30,500 as beginners.

  • Heavy truck salary: Heavy truck drivers are also referred to as tractor-trailer drivers and transport cargo over long distances (interstate). They earn an hourly wage of about $18 or $37,500 per year as beginners.

CDL drivers earn more depending on experience. For instance, Alabama CDL drivers with more than ten years of experience earn up to $66,368 per year. Those with between six to nine years of experience take home about $62,756 every year.

Conclusion 

Transport is one of the most robust industries in any economy. Trucking makes up a significant part of the industry. Those looking to build a secure, steady, and rewarding career should consider becoming truckers.

Although the job offers a great sense of freedom, working as a truck driver requires many sacrifices. You will have to fulfill so many requirements to qualify. However, the overwhelming freedom and reasonable remuneration are worth the sacrifice.

People Also Ask

The high number of Alabama CDL license requirements might intimidate you, but you should be worried more about losing your CDL.

Here are some common questions about Alabama commercial driver’s license that you might want to check out.

What Disqualifies You from Getting a CDL in Alabama?

Alabama disqualifies truckers from getting a CDL or operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (MCV) if their commercial driving record violates industry, federal, or state regulations.

Some violations may include drunkenness, reckless driving, or erratic lane changes, and leaving accident scenes. Disqualification may result in suspension or complete loss of your CDL license.

Can I Keep My CDL Without a Medical Card in Alabama?

A medical card is part of a mandatory requirement to operate a CDL. If your DOT medical card has expired, which usually takes somewhere between 3 months to 2 years, you must undertake another DOT physical test to continue operating.

Otherwise, it's an offense to keep a CDL without a medical card in Alabama.

Photo credit: cdllife.com

How Many Times Can You Take the CDL Test for Alabama?

The state of Alabama will not issue you with a CDL if you fail the skills test. However, you may retake your CDL test as early as the following business day. There is no cap to the number of times one can take the Alabama CDL test. 

When is an Alabama CDL Required?

An Alabama CDL must be presented anytime when operating vehicles of classes A, B, and C. Any vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeding 26,001 pounds in GVWR or GCWR will require you to have a valid CDL, as will any vehicle for transporting 15+ passengers or hazardous materials.



After spending years on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the hardships that came with the trucking industry. I realized there was an opportunity to lend a hand a create a resource for truckers by truckers. With the help of my tech-savvy son, I built Trucker Geek as a way to show people that becoming a driver doesn’t need to be a stressful headache.