Commercial Driver Education in Missouri
Imagine walking into work and your “desk chair" literally puts you in the driver's seat. On top of that, you can roll your “office" windows down and play your own music as loud as you want.
If this sounds like your kind of job, you should apply for a Missouri commercial driver's license (CDL).
In Missouri, certain commercial drivers are state-required to complete specialized training specific to your line of work once you have received your MO commercial driver's license. Beginning on February 7, 2022, all applicants will be required to complete federally mandated training before applying for a CDL.
Continue reading for details on CDL education requirements in Missouri.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the MO Department of Revenue now mandates new CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver training course through an authorized provider. You’ll need to complete this training prior to applying for your first commercial driver’s license, upgrading your existing CDL class, or applying for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.
Required CDL Training in Missouri
First-time CDL applicants are not currently legally obligated to take commercial Driver's Ed classes in preparation for the MO Department of Revenue's CDL exams, though this will be changing on February 7, 2022.
However, AFTER obtaining the necessary commercial driver's license, Missouri school bus drivers MUST participate in special training before you can begin work.
MO School Bus Drivers
If you intend to drive a school bus in Missouri, you will need to complete a specialized training program after receiving your CDL with school bus (S) and passenger (P) endorsements. Without this training, it is illegal for you to transport students.
For more information about school bus driver training, call the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education department at (573) 751-0357.
All Other CDL Applicants
Even though you're not currently required to take CDL test prep courses, it's important to note that doing so will most likely improve your chances of being able to pass the required commercial driver exams on your first try.
The tests that all Missouri CDL applicants are required to pass include:
- Written general knowledge exam.
- CDL skills road exam.
Depending on the classification and endorsement(s) attached to your desired CDL, you could have to pass additional commercial driver tests.
To avoid any sort of surprises on your CDL testing day, make sure that you're absolutely sure of your commercial driver license's classification and endorsement(s).
For more on CDL classifications and endorsements, we've created a couple guides to help you out:
CDL Test Prep Options in Missouri
As mentioned before, it is not currently mandatory that you take CDL test prep courses before applying for your MO commercial driver's license.
However, it would be wise to at least consider enrolling in commercial Driver's Ed, as the courses are specifically designed to help you pass the Department of Revenue's exam requirements:
- Taking an in-class course will give you ample preparation for the CDL written test(s).
- Participating in a behind-the-wheel program will ensure that you're fully prepared for the CDL road test.
If you begin to seriously consider taking commercial driver education classes, first ask the following questions about your options:
- Can your daily budget and schedule accommodate for a CDL course's tuition and duration?
- Will certified instructors who hold valid commercial driver licenses teach the classes?
- Are all of the topics and skills you'll need to master for your particular CDL exams covered in the program's curriculum?
Missouri CDL Written Test Prep
If you're having trouble deciding on a CDL written test prep course, look your options' curricula. You should only consider programs that'll at least teach the material that you'll find on the written general knowledge exam, including topics like:
- Proper vehicle inspection before, during, and after a trip.
- Driving basics (e.g. accelerating and backing up).
- Shifting gears with automatic and manual transmissions.
- Communicating and maintaining a field of vision with the traffic around you.
- Controlling vehicle speed in compromising situations like:
- Slippery road surfaces.
- Sharp curves.
- Steep hills.
- Heavy traffic.
- Managing the space around your vehicle.
Your CDL's particular classification and/or endorsement(s) could also warrant you having to take additional written tests, with exam topics that may include:
- Passenger transport.
- Air brakes function.
- Driving a combination vehicle.
- Transporting hazardous materials.
- Pulling liquid or gas-filled tankers.
- Driving with double or triple trailers.
- Safely operating a school bus.
When you feel prepared enough, schedule a CDL written test appointment at your local Department of Revenue office.
CDL Road Test Prep in MO
When you've passed all of the DOR's required written CDL exams, you'll be given a commercial learner permit (CLP). By law, you must hold your CLP for at least 14 days before taking your commercial driver road skills exam.
Since you'll have the time, it is strongly recommended that you enroll in a behind-the-wheel training course, which will teach you all of the skills you'll need to learn for the Department of Revenue's CDL road skills test.
For your general CDL skills road exam, you will minimally need to be able to execute the following skills:
- Completing an internal and external vehicle inspection.
- Backing up on a curve and in a straight line.
- Docking and parallel parking.
- Carefully proceeding through intersections and railroad crossings.
- Changing lanes and turning.
- Entering and exiting expressways.
Like the DOR's CDL written testing process, you might also have to master additional behind-the-wheel skills depending on your CDL's classification and endorsement(s). These include:
- Extensive pre-trip vehicle inspection for all buses and trailers.
- Clutch and gear usage for manual transmissions.
- Letting students off of a school bus.
- Inspecting the air brakes.
When you feel confident in your abilities to safely drive a commercial vehicle, make an appointment at a commercial driver road testing site.
Self-Study for Your Missouri CDL
While preparing for your Missouri commercial driver's license tests, you always have the option of studying on your own time.
Everything that'll be asked of you on the Department of Revenue's CDL written and road exams can be found in the Missouri Commercial Driver License Manual. As an additional self-study tool, consider taking a few CDL practice tests. Your practice test results will give insight as to which parts of the manual might need more studying and will also familiarize you with the format of the CDL written tests. Plus, you get to practice in the comfort of your own home, stress-free.
However you choose to study, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to feel fully prepared, relaxed, and ready to ace that exam on your first try.