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May 7, 2024

Types of Driver’s Licenses: What do they mean?

While most people think of regular two- or four-door cars when they think of a driver’s license, there are many different types of vehicles on the road that require a specialized license to drive. The types of driver’s licenses are organized by classes that span from A to E and have special variations, like MJ and DJ. The driver’s license requirements and types can also vary slightly by state in the United States.

New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) offers CDL training at campus locations throughout New England. Here, we discuss the various types of driver’s licenses.

Types of Driver’s Licenses

Driver’s licenses can vary from state to state. But there are two overall types of licenses that people should be aware of:

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): Sometimes, this is called a professional driver’s license because people who have a CDL often use it to drive for a living. According to the S. Department of Transportation (DOT), holding a CDL enables drivers to:
    • Operate any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
    • Operate any single vehicle with a gross weight of 26,000 lbs. or more for commercial use.
  • Non-Commercial Driver’s License (NCDL): This is the type of license that the everyday driver has.

For a CDL, an applicant must be 18 years old. They must be 21 years old if they intend to haul hazardous material.

Specific Classes of Driver’s Licenses

Besides a CDL and NCDL, driver’s licenses can be broken down further into specific classes, each designed to operate a different class of vehicle. Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) defines these licenses as follows:


A CDL A is needed for drivers who intend to drive combination-type vehicles, such as tractor-trailers or truck-trailers. These vehicles must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more lbs.
  • Have a towed vehicle with a GCWR or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in excess of 10,000 lbs.


A CDL B is required for driving single-type vehicles, which include heavy single-unit trucks or buses. These vehicles have:

  • A GVWR of 26,001 or more.
  • A towed vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less
  • If the towed vehicle is more than 10,000 lbs., the GCWR is 26,000 lbs. or less


A CDL C is needed for those who wish to drive a single-type vehicle like a single-unit truck or bus. These vehicles have a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less and may tow vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less. They may tow vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lbs. if the GCWR does not exceed 26,000 lbs. The vehicles must also meet one of the following requirements:

  • Transports 16 or more passengers, including the driver
  • Transports more than 10 passengers, including the driver, and transports students under 21 to and from school (requires medical certificate)
  • Carries hazardous materials placarded under 49 CFR 172.500 or any other federal regulation (requires medical certificate)

DOT in Massachusetts provides definitions of other licenses, including:

  • Class D: Single vehicles or a combination of vehicles not meeting the definition of Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class M. These include passenger vehicles like cars, SUVs, and family vans.
  • Class M: Issued for motor vehicles defined as motorcycles.

License Endorsements

Certain types of vehicles require an endorsement on a license. Those endorsements can include:

  • H: Allows drivers to transport hazardous materials
  • N: Allows drivers to drive a vehicle containing a tank used for hauling liquids
  • P: Allows a driver to transport passengers
  • S: Allows a person to operate a school bus. Drivers must obtain a “P” endorsement first.
  • T: Allows a driver to tow double or triple trailers

Additional requirements may apply for endorsements. An endorsement may require a written test or additional training before a person can earn it.

Learn More About CDLs at NETTTS

If you are looking for career training or looking to train for a CDL, New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) could be the change you’re looking for. Our programs include:

  • Experienced instructors with professional driving knowledge and at least three years of CDL road experience
  • Practice on truck driving simulator
  • Training on trucks with 10-speed manual transmissions
  • monthly payments that can extend beyond graduation
  • Financial aid available for those who qualify
  • Career services support

NETTTS is also accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

If you live in New England and are interested in learning more about New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS), feel free to give us a call. We have campus locations in:

Contact us today or request more information. Call us at 800-333-2888 if you have questions.