Why Linemen should start by getting their CDL
Updated: May 26
Aspiring lineman exploring their options for apprenticeships and starting points for their career often have question about getting a CDL. A commercial driver's license (CDL) is a driver's license required to operate large, heavy, or hazardous material vehicles in commerce. When applying for a lineman apprenticeship, grounds men position or really entry level position in the field, having a CDL can be a strong differentiation point and in many cases the obvious starting point.
Apprentices quickly learn there will be quite a bit of time before they are in the air and working on the lines. This means that the ability to contribute to a crew in other ways is critical. The vehicles that line crews use to navigate to jobs and while working are commercial vehicles, thus the important of having a CDL.
Do lineman even need to get their CDL?
Yes, if you are interested in becoming a lineman you should get your CDL. Having a CDL is not a prerequisite to begin a lineman apprenticeship but in many unions as apprenticeships are tough to come by, it can be the strong starting point to open up the lineman career path.
In our recent research of lineman positions available across the country the vast majority require a valid CDL upon applying, require the acquisition of a CDL upon hiring, or require applicants obtain a CDL within 60 days of starting a job with their company. Companies are very aware of the value that having a CDL bring to a team.
How do lineman get their CDL?
There are several step that lineman must complete in order to receive their CDL. First some prerequisites: you must be at least 21 years of age (at least 18 years of age to drive intrastate), you will need to submit your state’s CDL Application and pay the appropriate fee, you must be able to provide identity and Social Security number verification, you must submit a completed Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form and finally you must pass a vision test.
One the leading providers in CDL training is SAGE Truck Driving Schools. SAGE offers a wide variety of truck driving and CDL training programs across the country to meet the needs of new drivers and employers.
Another strong program is America Truck Driving School. The program is a family owned and operated business. Since opening in 2000, the program has expanded its operation to 4 offices including a new location in San Diego, CA.
The first component of the CDL test is the general vehicle inspection. Linemen should be able to point to or touch the part you are inspecting while verbally articulating what you are inspecting for. You should be able to tell the examiner what the components are and what defects you are looking for.
The second component of the CDL test is the basic control skills. Linemen will need to be able to perform three different exercises to demonstrate the ability to safely maneuver a commercial vehicle. The examiner for the test will let you know what exercise to perform. Linemen will receive negative points if their vehicle or trailer crosses a boundary line.
The third component of the CDL test is the road test. Linemen will take the vehicle out on the road with the examiner for a trip that will take 30 to 45 minutes. As the lineman drives along the route, the examiner will direct the performance of various maneuvers. The examiner will be making various scoring marks on the test form while you are driving. The marks do not necessarily mean you have done something wrong.
In summary, it is critical for anyone who is serious to starting a career as a lineman to pursue their CDL. There are many programs across the country that help those interested in receiving their CDL receive the appropriate license including many lineman training programs listed on Lineman Central.