Business ideas

30 business ideas that require a CDL

Transportation of goods and materials is a growing industry for small businesses and has been for several years.

There are also more and more opportunities for transporting people. And then there are opportunities to move other things too – like earth, in a nutshell.

For each of these tasks, a commercial driver’s license or CDL is usually required. If you are able to afford or already own equipment capable of these tasks, and can acquire a CDL, or hire someone who already has one, there are a wide range of small businesses you can start. Here are 30 business ideas to get you started.

CDL Business Ideas

Independent truck owner/operator

Owning and operating your own platform is a business opportunity open to those with a CDL. If you decide to ship products across the United States and into Canada and Mexico, you’ll be in good company. One in nine of America’s 3.5 million truckers is an independent owner-operator.

Moving company

You will need to hire at least one other person to help you lift. The costs of starting a moving company include the price of a van or tractor-trailer and a home base for parking.

Livestock transport

To make this activity profitable, you will need a utility vehicle that can accommodate many animals. You will need the correct CDL license. It is also important to understand the regulations on transporting livestock to cross state lines.

Shuttle service

Transporting passengers to and from work allows them to relax or catch up on work while you drive. It’s a great business idea as big cities expand.

Transport by boat

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

Hazardous Material Carrier (HAZMAT)

Starting this business means getting the right approval 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 organizing tours is profitable.

Transport of luxury vehicles

You must have the CDL license to tow a flatbed trailer. Transporting equipment or luxury vehicles is good business. Make sure you have the right insurance and technical know-how to secure these vehicles.

Delivery service

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

Transport of renovation materials

There are a lot of do-it-yourselfers who live in the suburbs and drive compact cars. If you have the right size trailer and a CDL license, you can start a business hauling materials from home improvement stores.

Driving elderly

There will be 98 million people over the age of 65 in America by 2060. Many of them will need help getting to appointments and going out. A single passenger van or fleet is a good investment in a sustainable senior transportation business. Consider vehicles equipped with a lift.

Cross Border Shipping

If you want to start this type of business, you will need to have a good understanding of the regulations. But the increase in online shopping makes it a real growth company.

Airport passenger shuttle

Van drivers also need CDLs. You may need a lot of capital to buy a fleet of vehicles depending on your ambitions. Buses and vans are among the vehicles needed for this type of business. But you can also include cars.

Bus charter for large companies

Businesses often need to transport their employees from place to place. Being able to charter the rides means they don’t have to buy buses.

Provide medical transport

Persons with disabilities or low income must be transported to medical appointments. A private medical transportation company can also cater to the growing elderly population.

Appliance repair and moving

Helping people by collecting their devices and taking them to a repair shop is a good niche market to explore.

furniture delivery

Not all stores that sell furniture are large enough to have their own delivery truck or fleet. In these days of outsourcing, you can start a delivery business by doing this.

Transport of waste

If you have a dump truck, this business idea might be worth your while. Offer your services to individual homeowners or private contractors.

water transportation

People in rural areas may have problems with their well. Transporting water for irrigation or other purposes is a great back-up solution for farmers when they need it.

Transportation of septic waste

This is a large enough company to have data from the US Census Bureau. Of course, most of the work takes place in rural areas.

Removal of household waste

There are very visible companies that do this. However, you can choose a niche market to use a truck and haul items like old paint cans and hazardous waste.

Towing other vehicles

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

Transportation of construction materials

30 CDL Business Ideas - Transportation of Construction Equipment

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


Areas where new homes and commercial developments are springing up can be the ideal location for a fledgling excavation business. Excavation companies require a healthy upfront investment to secure equipment and it can take time to land a big job.

Towing of heavy vehicles

If you want to start a business towing vehicles over 10,000 lbs, you need a CDL. A special tow truck is also required.

Scrap transport

Scrap semi-trailers can be expensive but are a good investment. Transporting scrap metal for recycling would be an essential service of this business.

Backhoe service

If you have a backhoe, you will need a CDL license and a trailer to transport it. But there are plenty of opportunities in this field, like digging into the sides of houses to fix leaky basements, for example.

Heavy Equipment Repairs

You will need both a mechanic license and a CDL to start this business. You can repair what you can on the spot. The CDL comes in handy when you need to transport a large machine on a flatbed.

LTL Driver

You won’t get long rides with these lighter-than-load contracts. However, you will have a lot of work and will be home several times a week.

Employment contract for a large transport company

You may be able to use your CDL to obtain work contracts from large transport companies. If so, you’ll need to know how to drive everything from flatbeds to tanker trucks.

Related Reading: 51 Business Ideas for 2020

Excavator, charter bus, truck photos via Shutterstock

More in: Develop an idea