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How to Get Your Texas CDL

Getting your Texas Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a wonderful accomplishment, because it means you are on your way to an exciting and rewarding career as a professional truck driver. But the process of obtaining the license can be confusing and the exam process very challenging, leading many potential drivers to delay or even forego earning a Texas CDL.

Before you begin, it is helpful to get a copy of the Texas CDL Handbook. The handbook will tell you what steps to follow to get your CDL license, and you'll also use it as a tool to study for your written exams at the Texas Department of Safety. You'll also need to pass a pre-trip inspection exam on the type of vehicle you wish to drive.

Next, get a learner's license so you can practice driving a commercial motor vehicle for the skills exams you'll take to earn your CDL. To earn a learner's license, you'll need to pass one or more written tests, depending on the type of commercial motor vehicle you want to drive. All applicants for a Texas CDL must take the General Knowledge exam. Other endorsements for which you may need to take written exams include:

  • Passenger

  • Double/Triple Trailers

  • Tank Vehicles

  • Hazardous Materials

  • School Bus



Last, you'll take a set of skills tests to earn your CDL. If you can't pass the air brake inspection skills test, you won't be allowed to take the road test. The road test must be taken in the same class of vehicle for which you want to be licensed.

You'll need to present proof of your identity and social security number to receive your Texas CDL. To avoid making unnecessary trips to the Department of Public Safety, start gathering your paperwork early. If you want a Hazardous Materials Endorsement on your Texas CDL, you'll need to pass a federal threat assessment. This program requires a time-consuming fingerprint check, so start the process as early as possible.

While operating a commercial motor vehicle with a learner's license, you must have a licensed CDL operator with the proper class of license in the front seat with you. Remember, the CDL exams are difficult and even experienced commercial motor vehicle drivers who retake the exams often fail them. A CDL test prep course can help you retain more information, giving you a better chance of passing the written tests the first time you take them.

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