In Texas, drivers interested in operating trucks, school buses and similar large vehicles typically need to obtain a commercial driver’s license. The Texas Department of Public Safety runs the state’s driver license offices and issues Texas CDL licenses. Applicants should first study and pass a knowledge test and get a medical certificate. They can then train on actual vehicles on Texas roads. After getting training and then passing a CDL skills test, applicants can finally get a Texas commercial driver’s license from the Texas DPS.
Go to a local Texas DPS driver’s license office and pick up a Texas CDL manual. You can also access the “Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook” online at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) website at Txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/documents/DL-7C.pdf. The manual lays out the knowledge necessary to pass the Texas CDL written test.
Get a medical exam and completed DOT medical card from a doctor. Download the fitness-exam form online at Fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/forms/649f.pdf. Having this card is a federal requirement that applies to all states, not just Texas.
Prepare for the knowledge exam by studying the Texas CDL manual. You can also supplement your study of the manual by finding other CDL study references and materials online. Search for “CDL study guide” and “CDL practice test” in Google or another search engine.
When studying for a CDL test, keep in mind that there are general portions that apply to all test takers and endorsement portions that apply to drivers associated with specific vehicles or cargo. For example, hauling of hazardous materials requires a HAZMAT endorsement. Similarly, driving a truck with air brakes requires an air-brakes endorsement.
Note: If you are studying for a HAZMAT test, keep in mind that there is now a federal safety threat assessment for all HAZMAT haulers. You can apply online at Hazprints.com.
Schedule your CDL knowledge test at a local Texas DPS driver’s license office. Take the test and pass it to get your Texas CDL permit. You can then train on actual commercial vehicles on Texas roads if you have a licensed driver to supervise you in the vehicle.
Get Texas CDL training. You can check out the possibility of a truck driver training school or look for employers that provide or sponsor CDL training. You can also find out more about school-bus training opportunities with the Texas DPS website at Txdps.state.tx.us/schoolbus/.
Schedule the second CDL test. This skills test may also involve driving on the road (it depends on the type of vehicle). When you pass this skills test, you will receive a Texas CDL license.
Note that you generally must provide a vehicle for skills testing. Trucking schools, employers and rental agencies (if you have no other choice) provide commercial motor vehicles for testing purposes.
Texas CDL Manual
Professional Truck Driver Institute Certified CDL Programs