30 Business Ideas That Require a CDL

30 CDL Business Ideas

Transporting goods and materials is a growth industry for small businesses and has been for a number of years.

There are also growing opportunities to transport people. And then there are opportunities to move other things too — like earth, in a matter of speaking.

For each of those tasks, a Commercial Drivers License or CDL is usually required. If you’re able to afford or already own equipment capable of these duties, and can acquire a CDL, or hiring someone who already possesses one, there are wide range of small businesses you could start. Here are 30 business ideas to get you started.

CDL Business Ideas

Independent Truck Owner/Operator

Owning and operating your own rig is one business opportunity open to those with a CDL. If you decide to haul products across the U.S. and into Canada and Mexico, you’ll be in good company. One in nine of America’s 3.5 million truckers are independent owner operators.

Moving Company

You’ll need to hire at least one other person to help you lift. Startup costs for a moving business include the price of a van or tractor trailer and a home base to park.

Livestock Transport

To make this business profitable, you’ll need a commercial vehicle that can hold lots of animals. You’ll need the right CDL license. Understanding the livestock transport regulations for crossing state lines is important too.

Shuttle Service

Carrying passengers to and from work allows them to relax or catch up on work while you drive. This is an excellent business idea as big cities spread out.

Boat Transport

If you live near the water, this can be a profitable business. Remember there are different trailers for different boats. Requirements for something with a mast are different than for a speedboat.

Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Hauler

Starting this business means getting the right endorsement to go with the CDL license. There are a few qualifications including a Transportation Security Administration fingerprint background check.

Tour Operator

If you live near a tourist destination, you can capitalize on your good fortune. Buying a bus and conducting tours is profitable.

Hauling Luxury Vehicles

You need to have the CDL license to pull a flatbed trailer. Hauling equipment or luxury vehicles is a good business. Make sure you’ve got the right insurance and technical know how to secure these vehicles.

Delivery Service

Starting a delivery service requires a box truck if you’re going to get involved with consumers and businesses. You’ll be competing with bigger players like FedEx if you live in the big city, so you’ll need to adjust prices accordingly. If you can find a niche market like groceries, all the better.

Hauling Renovation Materials

There are a lots of DIYers who live in the suburbs and drive compact cars. If you’ve got a trailer that’s the right size and a CDL license, you can start a business hauling materials from home improvement stores.

Driving Seniors

There will be 98 million people over 65 in America by 2060. Many of them will need help getting to appointments and outings. A one passenger van or a fleet is a good investment in a sustainable business  shuttling seniors. Consider lift equipped vehicles.

Cross Border Shipping

If you want to start this type of business, you’ll need to have a good understanding of the regulations.  But the increases in online shopping make this a real growth enterprise.

Shuttling Airport Passengers

Passenger van drivers need CDLs too. You may require lots of capital to buy a fleet of vehicles depending on your ambitions. Buses and vans are some of  the vehicles needed for this type of business. But you might also want to include cars.

Chartering Buses for Big Companies

30 CDL Business Ideas - Chartering Buses for Big Companies

Corporations often need to shuttle employees from place to place. Being able to charter the rides means they don’t need to buy buses.

Providing Medical Transportation

People who are disabled or are low income need rides to medical appointments. A private medical transportation company can also cater to the  increasing senior population.

Repairing and Moving Appliances

Helping people by picking their appliances up and taking them to a repair shop is a good niche market to explore.

Furniture Delivery

Not every store that sells furniture is big enough to have its own delivery truck or fleet. In these days of outsourcing, you can start a delivery business doing that.

Waste Hauling

If you’ve got a dump truck, this business idea could be worthwhile. Provide your services to individual home owners or to private contractors.

Water Hauling

People who live in rural areas can have problems with their wells. Hauling water for irrigation or other purposes is a great backup for farmers when they need it.

Septic Waste Hauling

This is a business that’s big enough to have data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of course, most of the work happens in rural areas.

Household Junk Removal

There are highly visible companies doing this. However, you can pick a niche market to use a truck and haul items like old paint cans and hazardous wastes.

Towing Other Vehicles

A tow truck business is competitive but profitable. Startups need to check with local governments to make sure they get the right permits.

Hauling Construction Equipment

30 CDL Business Ideas - Hauling Construction Equipment

If you get in touch with the right developers, you can start a business hauling heavy materials like concrete and other construction materials.


Areas where new homes and commercial developments are springing up may be the perfect place for a fledgling excavating business. Excavation businesses require a healthy upfront investment to secure equipment and it may take time before you land a big job.

Towing Heavy Vehicles

If you want to start a business towing vehicles that exceed 10,000 lbs, you need a CDL. A special tow truck is needed too.

Hauling Scrap Metal

Scrap metal semi trailers can be expensive but a good investment. Hauling scrap metal for recycling would be a cornerstone service of this business.

Backhoe Service

If you have a backhoe, you’ll need a CDL license and a trailer to haul it on. But there are a lot of opportunities in this field — like diggingup the sides of houses to repair leaking basements, for example.

Heavy Equipment Repairs

You’ll need both a mechanic’s license and a CDL to start this business. You can repair what you can on site. The CDL comes in handy when you need to haul away a big machine on a flatbed.

LTL Driver

You won’t be doing the long hauling with these lighter than load contracts. Still, you’ll have lots of work and get to be home several times a week.

Contract Work for a Larger Hauling Company

You might be able to use your CDL to secure contract work from larger hauling companies.  If that’s the case, you’ll need to know how to drive everything from flatbeds to tankers.

Related reading: 51 Business Ideas for 2020

ExcavatorCharter BusTruck Photos via Shutterstock

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

One Reaction
  1. Nice to know. This means that it is important to have these if you need to operate this business. I guess it is not needed if driving is just a side activity for your business.