Texas CDL Requirements
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Becoming a trucking owner-operator may be a good career choice if you are dedicated, motivated, and prepared. Consider the pros and cons of long haul truck driving and becoming an owner-operator of your own trucking company.
So you want to become a truck driver? Learn what it takes to become a truck driver and you may consider enrolling in a truck driving school.
Ready to obtain your commercial driver's license? There are several CDL license requirements and you must be prepared to pass the CDL exam. A truck driving school may help. Find out how.
Driving truck in the Lone Star state is always an adventure. Often Texas sparks feelings of the Old West in travellers, and CDL truckers are no different once they get their first taste of Big Bend country. Whether on short hauls around the Texan stretch of the Gulf Coast or rolling through the Panhandle, learning to drive truck in Texas affords a great career and lifestyle opportunity. Excellent weather, neatly arranged cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Arlington offer some excellent perks, with miles of highway and beautiful scenery in between. Read on to discover information about how to get your CDL license in Texas.
What CDL Licenses are Available in Texas?
Important change has come to Texas! As a strong state under the national Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Texas works hand in hand with federal agencies to ensure that CDL regulations match the state's targets for safety, progress, and independence. Texas has three classes of CDL for drivers and applicants may test at any one of the state's 25 certified locations. Generally, however, Ohio's regulations are in line with much of the rest of the country, providing straightforward driving for interstate and intrastate CDL operators. The following license classes are available for those people who are applying to become a trucker:
CDL Class A
In order to qualify as a Class A vehicle requiring the associated license, the vehicle weight must be more than 26,000 pounds and the hind vehicle or trailer must weigh more than 10,000 pounds. Class A licenses are a common starting point for truckers who drive interstate routes; this license holder can also operate Class B, C, and D vehicles as long as no additional endorsements are needed and no other restrictions apply.
CDL Class B
To qualify as a Class B vehicle requiring the associated Class B license, the total vehicle weight must be 26,000 pounds or more and any towed portion must weigh less than 10,000 pounds. Vehicles that are designed to transport 24 or more individuals including the driver are also required to carry a Class B license. Truckers who do short hauls or intrastate routes commonly possess this type of commercial vehicle and license. Operators with a Class B license are also clear to operate Class C vehicles as long as additional endorsements are not required, and no other restrictions are in effect.
CDL Class C
To ensure that all commercial vehicles have appropriate licensure in Texas and across the country, Class C commercial licences ensure that all other commercial vehicles have a regulatory framework. Class C also applies to those vehicles that are designed to transport 16 - 23 people plus the driver, and vehicles that carry placards for hazmat, waste, toxins and select agents. Class C licensed drivers are restricted to their own class and must ensure they have the proper endorsements on their CDL and no restrictions.
Please note that it is the vehicle's actual tonnage during transport that will be used to determine class and regulatory adherence.
In Texas, all drivers of a personal vehicle have what is commonly known as a DL - a driver's license. Texans use this license for some vans, cube vans, cars, pickups and some RVs. To start the CDL process in the state, recreational vehicles, some rental vans, some agricultural vehicles, but not motorcycles or other vehicles. To earn your CDL license in Ohio, candidates must present their D license.
CDL Eligibility in Texas
In 1986, the United States Department of Transportation made sweeping changes to the national system of regulation, training and licensure for commercial drivers. Texas is in the process of exceeding these federal minimum standards in order to ensure the safety of the workers and travellers that share the road. All CDL truckers in Texas must follow state regulations where they exceed the federal framework.
Please note that if your privilege to drive a personal vehicle with a DL class license has been suspended or revoked for any reason, you are not eligible to apply for a CDL.
License and Permits
- Applicants must come prepared with their original DL class driver's license in good standing. The DL knowledge and skills tests indicates basic understanding of traffic and road safety, as well as how to operate a motor vehicle; skills which are not directly tested in the CDL.
- Current or former military personnel may be exempted from parts of the CDL process depending on rank or military qualifications. Please enquire whether this possibility includes you.
- To drive truck intrastate (that is, only within the state) applicants must be 18 years old, or older. To drive interstate (that is, between states) applicants need to be over the age of 21.
Proof of Residence in Texas
A country-wide piece of legislation for CDL drivers is that of domiciliary or residential proof, in order to ensure that each applicant only has one CDL license. Drivers should be prepared to show original documents that confirm their permanent in-state address.
CDL Requirements for Texas Residents
- Current DL class driver's license
- Social Security information
- Proof of financial commitment (insurance documents)
Texas CDL Requirements for Out-of-State Residents and Transfers
In order to meet Texan CDL transfer regulations, much care goes into the processing and validation of an applicant's documents. CDL truck drivers should be prepared to produce the following original documents to support their application.
- Their ID card from the former state of residence
- Their license from the former state of residence
- Their original birth certificate
- Their United States passport
- If applicable, their immigration and/or naturalization documents
Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Texas CDL
Citizens from other countries who wish to drive truck on a CDL are obligated to show clear evidence of permanent, legal resident status in Texas. The Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) advises all permanent, legal residents who are foreign citizens to bring all supporting original documentation to establish their valid application for a commercial driver's license. Such documentation is sure to include the following:
- Citizenship papers
- Naturalization/residence documentation
- Birth documents and affidavits from country of origin
- Immigration paperwork
Please note that documents in languages other than English may need to be translated by an accredited third party.
Do I Need a CDL?
If you are a member of the military, there are slight variations on the rules for CDL application, depending on your military qualifications. Current personnel or veterans are encouraged to inquire at one of Texas' 25 offices throughout the state. Applicants should note that original and legible records will be required to support the application.
In some situations, a CDL is not required - however, drivers must have the correct class of license to drive the vehicle in question. Those circumstances are:
- Vehicles operated for military purposes by designated personnel
- Farm vehicles within a 150 mile radius of the home-farm
- Fire-fighting vehicles, operated by an employee or volunteer
- Emergency vehicles, operated by an employee or volunteer
- Recreational vehicles (RVs) for non-commercial use
- Cotton and cotton machinery transportation
Medical and Physical CDL Requirements
- Depending on whether the CDL driver is an excepted or un-excepted driver is important to determine. This information is used to determine of the applicant requires a valid medical variance or medical examiner's certificate. Should a medical examiner's certificate be required, please inquire in person or by phone about approved examiners throughout Texas.
- After the initial process has been fulfilled, CDL drivers are responsible for completing an affidavit that indicates their ongoing fitness to drive under a commercial driver's license.
Background Check for CDL Applicants
Transporting placarded hazardous materials requires a TSA background check. Without this process, truckers cannot legally drive with this class of material. Procedures and timelines vary from state to state, therefore applicants are encouraged to check with their local office.
CDL Testing in Texas
Before the state of Texas will consider issuing a CDL permit (called a CLP) as the first step toward a CDL, applicants must complete knowledge and practical tests. Throughout the state, Texas has more than 25 locations throughout the state to serve drivers - including Waco, Corpus Christi and Amarillo. Ensure that you arrive on time for your test and with payment in hand. You must test in the same kind of vehicle that you hope to drive under a CDL.
CDL Knowledge Tests
Texas CDL drivers undergo progressive testing to ensure only the most effective truckers achieve CDL status.
Texas is currently replacing pre-trip knowledge tests with practical pre-trip knowledge and basic skills tests. Both must be in good standing before being eligible to take a road-skills test.
Depending on their career goals, CDL drivers might want to schedule additional tests for the following types of vehicles:
- Double and Triple Trailers
- Passenger Vehicles
- Tank Vehicles
- Hazardous Materials and Waste
- School Buses
CDL Skills Tests
After practical pre-skills testing, candidates become eligible for road-skills testing at a government or third-party accredited facility. Candidates are responsible for providing their own rig for testing.
Texas CDL Office Locations
- 4649 South 1st
Abilene, TX 79605
- 7700 Loop 335 E.
Amarillo, TX 79109
- 9725 S IH 35 Frontage Rd.
Austin, TX 78744
- 3506 Twin River Blvd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78410
- 269 US 183 (US 87)
Cuero, TX 77954 (Across from McMahon Welding)
- Dallas South Mega Center
39025 LBJ Service Rd.
Dallas, TX 75232
- 32 Foster-Maldonado Blvd.
Eagle Pass, TX 78852
- Northwest 8799 South Desert Blvd.
Anthony, TX 79821
- Ft Worth Mega Center
804 East Waggoman St.
Ft. Worth, TX 76120
- Houston Gessner Mega Center
12220 S Gessner
Houston, TX 77071
- 12511 Airport Road
Hearne, TX 77859
- Houston North Mega Center
8418 Veterans Memorial
Houston, TX 77088
- 4831 FM 349
Kilgore, TX 75662
- 1901 Bob Bullock Loop
Laredo, TX 78043
- 3161 US Hwy 59N
Livingston, TX 77351
- 1404 Lubbock Business Park Blvd.
Lubbock, TX 79403
- Mile Marker 103 IH 20 West of Penwell
Odessa, TX 79763
- 4255 Bonham
Paris, TX 75460
- Rosenberg Mega Center
28000 SW Freeway
Rosenberg, TX 77471
- 3052 N Bryant Blvd.
San Angelo, TX 76903
- 6502 S New Braunfels
San Antonio, TX 78223
- 15500 FM 1255
Canton, TX 75103
- Waco CDL
106 Jewell Drive
Waco, TX 76712
- 2525 N. International Blvd.
Weslaco, TX 78599
- Rest Area Site on IH 44
Wichita Falls, TX 76306
The above testing locations are available for the CDL Skills Test. For more information regarding locations please visit http://dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/documents/cdlNotice.pdf.
Texas CDL Endorsements
The entire country has adopted an ‘endorsement' or ‘additional skills' system that quickly tells employers and regulators which CDL drivers are certified for classes of vehicles and types of situations. Texas CDL endorsements are additional knowledge and practical tests that apply to the following types of vehicles:
- School Buses (S)
- Tank Vehicles (N)
- Passenger transportation (P)
- Hazardous Materials (H)
- Tanker-Hazardous Materials (X)
- Double or triple trailers (T)
Due to your age, physical health, aptitude or employer needs, you may have restrictions on where and what you can drive commercially under your Texas CDL - read carefully and inquire by phone or in person at the nearest CDL office!
- Must have corrective lenses (A)
- Must hold CLP (commercial learner's permit) until [DATE] (F)
- Vehicle must be under 26,000 lbs gross weight (H)
- Only vehicles without airbrakes (L)
- Intrastate only (M)
- Ignition interlock (N)
- Occupational or Essential Need DL (O)
- Must be accompanied by a licensed driver 21+ in front seat - above class B (Q)
- Must be accompanied by a licensed driver 21+ in front seat - above class C (R)
- Additional outside mirror or hearing aid (S)
- Automatic transmission only (T)
- Prosthetic device (U)
- Medical variance documents (V)
- Power steering (W)
- Class C only (X)
- Vision or limb waiver (Y)
- Applicable vehicle devices (Z)
- Must be accompanied by a licensed driver 21+ in front seat (P9)
- Must be accompanied by a licensed driver 21+ in front seat (P10)
- Bus maximum weight 26,000 lbs GVWR (P11)
- Authorization of Class B exempt vehicle (P14)
- Authorization of Class A exempt vehicle (P15)
- Interstate school buses (P16)
- Interstate government vehicles (P17)
- Interstate transport of personal property (P18)
- Interstate transport of sick/injured/corpse (P19)
- Interstate transport of private passengers (P20)
- Interstate fire and rescue (P21)
- Interstate intra-city zone driving (P22)
- Interstate custom harvesting (P23)
- Interstate bee and apiary transport (P24)
- Oil and water well service (P25)
- Mobile crane operation (P26)
- Hazardous Materials Expiration [DATE] (P27)
- Farm CDL valid [DATE] to [DATE] (P28)
- Farm CDL valid [DATE] to [DATE] exempt class B vehicles (P29)
- Farm CDL valid [DATE] to [DATE] exempt class A vehicles (P30)
Texas CDL Disqualifications
States endorse federal regulations as well as state-specific laws. Being caught violating these laws results in having your CDL suspended or revoked in addition to fines and work changes by your employer. Disqualifications include:
Texas Serious Driving Infractions
- Exiting the scene of an accident in which you/your commercial vehicle were involved
- Committing a felony in a commercial vehicle
- Testing as under the influence of alcohol
- Behaving as under the influence of alcohol, regardless of testing
- Refusing to be tested on the roadside for blood-alcohol content
- Testing or behaving as under the influence of a controlled substance
- Having traffic violations on personal vehicles (excluding parking violations)
Careless Driving Infractions
- Driving a commercial vehicle while suspended or without a CDL
- Driving a commercial vehicle in a reckless manner
- Speeding by more than 15 mph
- Failing to wear a seat belt
- Not heeding CDL railroad crossing laws and level-crossing approach laws (this varies on class of vehicle, endorsements and restrictions)
Fraud, Criminal and Domiciliary Infractions
- Illegal domicile in the U.S.
- Felony actions
- Outstanding convictions
- Safety risk as per TSA
- Suspected of CDL fraud
CDL Salary, Employment, and Prospects
Projected data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that all manners of commercial vehicle driving in Texas is trending upward at a rapid pace, far outpacing the national averages. It's an excellent time to become a truck driver in the state of Texas! For clarity, the BLS data is sorted into three categories.
Projected to grow by 21% over the next few years, heavy truck driving profession is growing much more rapidly than national averages at 6%. This will yield about 7,000 interstate driving jobs for Texans each year. Those just entering the field can expect to make about $23,500, with a median salary of almost $40,000. At the height of their profession, the top 10% of truckers make over $60,000.
The BLS predicts that light truck and delivery services are poised to grow by 23% over the next decade - about 20% faster than this industry across the rest of the country. This will give rise to about 2,500 new jobs in Texas alone each year for the next few years. Salaries are just about on par with national averages, with 75% of commercial delivery drivers making approximately $37,000.
School bus driver roles in Texas are expected to expand by about 6,500 positions from now until the mid-2020s, due to a 20% expansion from now until that time. With a median wage of $23,500, those drivers with the most seniority, best safety records, and most professional development earn over $36,000 annually.
Resources for Texas CDL Requirements
Learn more about Texas trucking schools.
Truck Driver Salary in Texas
|Location||25th Percentile||75th Percentile||Annual Salary|
|Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX||$29,110||$47,040||$35,710|
|Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX||$29,870||$42,330||$35,370|
|College Station-Bryan, TX||$25,820||$43,260||$33,360|
|Corpus Christi, TX||$25,920||$42,330||$34,050|
|Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division||$28,310||$50,280||$38,920|
|El Paso, TX||$23,340||$46,210||$34,430|
|Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division||$30,140||$46,950||$36,920|
|Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||$30,620||$46,980||$38,140|
|Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX||$26,330||$51,610||$33,740|
|San Angelo, TX||$25,210||$37,540||$32,490|
|San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX||$26,370||$40,850||$32,030|
|Wichita Falls, TX||$28,770||$43,690||$34,760|
Table data taken from 2015 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm)