The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA) recently announced that more than 18,700 Veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve have completed the Military CDL Skills Test Waiver since May 2012 (more than 5,600 completed in 2016 alone!).
This growth is a great improvement from when we started educating service members on the program back in 2014. However, many people are still unaware or confused by the waiver. This blog intends to clear up that confusion.
Read below to learn what the waiver is, what it does and how you can use it to further your career.
MILITARY CDL SKILLS TEST WAIVER OVERVIEW
To start your trucking career, you will need to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To get your license, you must take a CDL exam.
Each CDL test has two components: a practical driving assessment and a written test. However, if you drove large vehicles during your military service, you may be exempt from the driving portion. This past experience can also add $10,000 - $15,000 on top of your annual salary in the trucking industry.
The Military CDL Skills Test Waiver exempts service members who are or were employed in a military position in the last 12 months from taking the driving portion of their CDL skills test. In 2016, the FMCSA made it easier for Veterans and transitioning service members to obtain their CDL by extending the 90-day window to an entire YEAR to waive the CDL practical test for those with military driving experience.
The Military CDL Skills Test Waiver allows State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLA) to “count” two years of Veterans’ safe driving experience in select military vehicles because that experience has value in commercial trucking.
HOW THE WAIVER WORKS WITH DOL- APPROVED APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS
The waiver allows you to get your CDL faster and to count your military experience toward civilian certification; an apprenticeship allows you to get paid, specialized, on-the-job training for your chosen profession.
But why do you need the additional training after you get your CDL?
While the waiver helps you get your CDL quickly and simply, it does not qualify you to drive specialized equipment. For example, most service members have only driven in automatic transmissions, so they aren’t prepared to drive in manual vehicles. Or, you may want to drive a flatbed truck, which takes some additional training on the new equipment.
With your waiver in hand, you can select a company with a Department of Labor Approved Registered Apprenticeship who will train you as an expert in civilian trucking equipment while you get paid and receive regular increases in salary. For more information on apprenticeships, click here: transportationapprenticeships.org.
- 21 years old or older.
- Valid non-commercial driver’s license.
- Copy of your military driver’s license
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Resident Card.
- No convictions in any motor vehicle that disqualify you from obtaining a CDL. You can find the list of disqualifying offenses on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Website (49 CFR 383.51 (b)) by clicking here.
- At least two (2) years of certified military driving experience in an approved vehicle.
- Employed with the military within the last 12 months (1 year).
MILITARY TRUCK QUALIFICATIONS
The following vehicles are examples of the approved vehicles that qualify for military driving experience on the Military CDL Skills Test Waiver:
The type of vehicle you drove in the military designates the type of CDL for which you qualify. Depending on your past military vehicle experience, you may qualify for one of three different commercial licenses: Class A, Class B, or Class C. Click here to see a CDL License Matrix that lists the vehicle characteristics, required testing, and endorsements necessary for each of the three (3) CDL licences.
STEP-BY-STEP TO USE THE WAIVER
If you meet the above qualifications, take the following steps to use the Military CDL Skills Test Waiver:
- Download and print the Military CDL Skills Test Waiver
- Fill out each section on the first page, including
- Applicant Information
- Driver Record Certification
- Certification of Driving Experience
- Applicant signature and date
- Take the waiver to your military commander, and have him or her fill out the second page’s Commanding Officer’s Certification of Commercial Driving Experience. Your commander will also print and sign his or her name and rank along with the date signed.
- Bring in person your completed waiver to your state’s DMV, DLD or RMV. All 50 states accept the waiver. (Word to the wise: make an appointment to skip the long lines!)
- Take the written portion of the CDL test. Remember that this cannot be waived, so you’ll need to study up a bit. Click here for a great resource for practice. http://www.cdlknowledge.com/cdl-practice-test/.
- Wait for approval. Your state’s DMV, DLD or RMV will notify you if your waiver is approved by phone, email, or standard mail.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
Of course, if you have follow-up questions, you can reach out to FASTPORT any time. Just click on the “chat” box on fastport.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be ready to help!
Thank you for your service and for keeping our roads safe!