Benefits of Upgrading From Class B to Class A CDL

by Pride Transport | Dec 21, 2023

As you begin your career in the trucking industry, you may first start with your Class B CDL. A Class B CDL lets you drive Class B and C commercial vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more. You can also tow a trailer of no more than 10,000 pounds with this license. The kinds of vehicles you’ll drive day-to-day may include straight trucks, dump trucks, delivery trucks, or cement mixers. Garbage trucks and buses also fall under this licensing category. 

For some, this licensing works well enough to find a job and get going in their careers as school bus or box truck drivers, but there is the option to upgrade the license to a Class A CDL. 

Why upgrade from Class B to Class A CDL? There are several perks to keep in mind, such as gaining the license to drive vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more with a trailer of 10,000 pounds or more, which you simply cannot do with your Class B license. You’ll have the training and licensing to drive Class A, B, and C vehicles, expanding your abilities and job opportunities.  


How to Get Class B CDL

Getting your Class B CDL is the first step toward working in a truck driving career and may be obtained before upgrading to a Class A license. To get your Class B CDL, you need to be 18 years old or older, have a state driver’s license (Class D) for at least one year, and maintain a clean driving record.

You will also need to obtain a Department of Transportation Medical Certificate (this is also known as a DOT card). In Utah, you should also complete the Utah self-certification when you fill out your application for your commercial driver’s license. 

To learn where to enroll in training to get this license, you’ll want to check with your local technical colleges, such as Tooele Technical College in Utah, or choose from one of the driving schools we’ve reviewed on our website. You will want to look for a program with in-person practical training or opt for a training program with mentorships available.

Reasons to Upgrade From Class B to Class A CDL

Starting your truck driving career may lead you to obtaining your Class B CDL. Perhaps you decide to drive for a local school or box truck delivery service — those are both great options and opportunities for decent earnings. Still, there may come a time when your career isn’t moving forward or when you wish you could earn more. That’s where a Class A CDL comes into play. The main reasons to upgrade from Class B to Class A CDL are because of the increase in potential job and career opportunities. 

Class A licenses are top-tier. You’ll have the ability to drive Class A, B, and C vehicles, including:

  • Livestock carriers
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Tanker vehicles
  • Flatbeds 

Additionally, you can obtain endorsements to increase the kinds of products or items you can transport, opening your opportunities up even further. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for truck drivers in 2022 was $49,920 — that’s around $24 an hour. However, pay can vary significantly depending on your licensing and endorsements. The BLS reports that the highest 10 percent of drivers earn over $75,220 annually and the lowest earn less than $35,300. Obtaining additional licensing helps you reach higher pay levels through increased opportunities. 

pride transport employee in truck

Understanding Class A CDL Requirements

The minimum requirements you must meet to get a Class A CDL in Utah include the following:

  1. You have to be at least 18 years old.
  2. You’ll need to obtain a Department of Transportation Medical Certificate. This is also known as a DOT card. 
  3. You should provide proof of your Social Security number, Utah state residency, legal presence in the United States, and identity.
  4. You need to complete a Utah self-certification form when you apply. 
  5. You should have held your Class D license for at least one year. 
  6. Proof of completion of an authorized training class. 

There are also some additional requirements to meet to get your Class A CDL. They include:

  • Needing 20/40 vision in both eyes (with or without corrective devices).
  • Having color vision as needed for the role.
  • Hearing well — you should be able to hear a whisper from five feet away.
  • Having controlled blood sugar levels, if you have diabetes.
  • Having controlled blood pressure of no more than 160/100. 
  • Completing a stress test if you live with a cardiovascular disease.
  • No current use of a Schedule I drug (including narcotics, amphetamine, and others).


If you meet the requirements and obtain your Class A license, you’ll have the necessary license to drive any combination of vehicles that have gross vehicle weight ratings of 26,001 or more. You’ll also be able to tow a trailer or vehicle of 10,000 or more pounds. Some combinations you can drive with your licensing include:

  • Tractor trailers
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Livestock carriers
  • Tractor-trailer buses
  • Double and triple trailers
  • Flatbeds


You may retain the ability to drive Class B and C vehicles. Check with your local regulations to verify.


How to Upgrade Your Commercial License

To upgrade your license from a Class B to Class A CDL, Class B CDL holders have to pass additional knowledge and skills tests. You will also need to learn to operate (and become qualified to operate) vehicles with air brakes before you can get your Class A CDL.

The first step is to obtain your commercial learner’s permit, which you can get by completing a Class A entry-level driver training (ELDT) theory program. You’ll have to complete several written exams, including one for air brakes.

After this, you’ll need to go through an ELDT behind-the-wheel program and obtain a certificate. After you pass, you can apply for a standard or REAL ID Class A CDL. Once that’s done, you just have to pass a general knowledge three-part skills test, and you’ll be ready to get on the road.

Get Ready for a Career With Pride

At Pride Transport, we’re excited to see you eager to advance your career. Once you have your Class A CDL, it’s time to find a new role. To find open positions you might be interested in, take a look at our driver career opportunities.

pride transport employees outside truck

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