Want to get a job? Get a CDL

WASHINGTON — Looking for a job? A commercial driver’s license could open a door of opportunity.

“If someone has a CDL with a passenger endorsement, absent some sort of criminal disqualification, they are going to get a job offer from Circulator or WMATA,” District Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo said.

“This is a broader issue than just transit operations, we’re having a very difficult time hiring for maintenance activities in the highway environment for CDLs, and frankly to even have people with that credential who can operate the heavy plows during the snow response,” Dormsjo added at a D.C. Council hearing this week.

Metro hires bus operators with CDL learning permits and includes completion of requirements as part of a 10-week training class. During training, Metro pays permit holders $12.03 per hour, and many full license holders $16 per hour. Those who successfully complete the training become Metrobus operators making a base rate of $17.57 per hour.

People interested in getting commercial licenses on their own can go through other processes.

D.C. residents must be 21 years old, have a valid regular driver’s license, meet driving and health history standards, pass written tests and eventually pass a road test to get a CDL.

Maryland residents must meet similar requirements; however, 18-year-olds can get a learner’s permit that are only valid within the state.

Virginia also allows 18-year-olds to get intrastate permits, and requires medical certifications.

In some cases, recent military experience can qualify service members for a waiver from some requirements.

People who get commercial driver’s licenses can get various endorsements that allow them to operate different vehicles. Endorsements include permission to drive vehicles with passengers, school buses and vehicles carrying hazardous materials.

“Smaller and smaller numbers of people are pursuing those types of jobs, and it’s, in large part, I think it’s recognition that these are tough jobs,” Dormsjo said. “Operating a truck, a plow, a bus — it’s very important work. It’s safety sensitive.”

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