To drive a commercial vehicle in the state of Texas, you will need to have a CDL. Obtaining your CDL is not as difficult as you may think, but there are several steps you will need to take to be fully prepared.
In this blog post, we will outline everything you need to know about getting a CDL in Texas. We will also provide some helpful tips on what to expect during the testing process. So if you are looking to become a commercial driver in Texas, keep reading!
Why is Getting a CDL in Texas a Good Idea?
There are many reasons why getting a CDL in Texas is a good idea. For starters, Texas is one of the largest states in the country, which means there are plenty of work opportunities. If you have your CDL, you will be able to apply for jobs driving all kinds of vehicles, from trucks to buses.
Another reason getting a CDL in Texas is a good idea is because the pay is generally very good. According to over 40,000 salaries reported on Indeed, the average salary for a commercial driver in Texas is $70,662.
That is a pretty good salary, especially when you consider that the cost of living in Texas is relatively low.
Brief Overview Of The Requirements To Get a CDL In Texas
To get a CDL In Texas, you will need a couple of things. Below we will go over a brief overview of the requirements.
- You must be at least 21 Years Of Age
- You Must Have Proof Of American Citizenship
- Proof of Texas Citizenship
- Valid Non-Commercial Driving License
- Clean Driving Record
- Must Be a Healthy, Non-High-Risk Driver
When you’re ready to head to the DMV, you need to present the following things.
- CDL Application
- Proof of Identification
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency
- Proof Of Insurance
- Social Security Card
- Testing Fee Money
- Pass a Vision Test
- Certification Of Medical Status
Lastly, after all of this, you’ll have to complete a test to get your CDL permit. This test will include a mix of written and multiple choice questions about the rules of the road in Texas, general knowledge about commercial vehicles, and more. There are plenty of training programs and online resources available to help you prepare for this test.
You need to get over 80% on the written test to pass and once you have your permit, you will be able to practice driving with a licensed commercial driver. Don’t aim for 80% though, study and aim for 100%!
How To Officially Get Your CDL
You need to hold your CDL Permit for 14 days before you can take your skills test. The skills test is taken in the vehicle that you will be driving and will include the following.
There are multiple parts to the skills test:
- Pre-Trip Inspection
- Starting The Truck
- Parallel Parking and Offset Backing
- Straight Line Backing
- Downshifting and upshifting
- Lane Changing
- Use Of Lanes
- Smooth Stopping
- Left and right turns
- Roadside Stopping and Starting
- Proper Posture
In the rest of this post, we will go over each one individually, along with some other FAQs.
The first part of the skills test is the pre-trip inspection. This is where you will have to demonstrate that you know how to properly inspect your vehicle before hitting the road. You will be asked to identify different parts of the vehicle and explain what you are looking for when you inspect them.
The seven steps for performing a pre-trip inspection are as follows:
This is a basic visual inspection of the entire vehicle. You are looking for any obvious damage or problems.
Engine Compartment Check
This is where you will check the engine oil level, power steering fluid, coolant level, and belts. You will also be checking for any leaks.
Inside The Cab
This is checking the gauges, switches, and controls to make sure they are all in the proper position and working correctly. Mirrors, horns, and windshield wipers should also be checked.
All of the lights and reflectors should be checked to make sure they are clean and working.
You need to inspect the outside of the car for any damage, leaks, or problems with the tires, wheels, and Hubs.
You need to make sure the turn signals and brake lights are working.
You need to check the parking brake, foot brake, and emergency brake. You should also test the trailer brakes if you have one.
Starting The Truck
The second part of the skills test is starting the truck. This may seem like a simple task, but you will be graded on how well you do it. You will be asked to explain what you are doing as you start the vehicle and how to properly check that everything is working before putting it into gear.
Parallel Parking and Offset Backing
The third and fourth part of the skills test is parallel parking and offset backing. For these tasks, you will be asked to park the vehicle in a designated spot.
Straight Line Backing
The fifth part of the skills test is straight line backing. For this task, you will have to back the vehicle in a straight line for a certain distance.
This is one of the hardest parts of the test for many people, so make sure you practice!
Upshifting and Downshifting
The sixth and seventh part of the skills test is upshifting and downshifting. For these tasks, you will have to demonstrate that you know how to shift gears properly.
Next up is lane changing. For this task, you will have to change lanes safely and without hitting any cones.
Once you have completed all eight parts of the skills test, you will be asked to drive around for a certain distance. The examiner will be looking for any mistakes that you make during this time.
Next is merging. For this task, you will have to demonstrate that you know how to safely merge into traffic.
Use Of Lanes
Usage of lanes is the part where you will have to demonstrate that you know how to stay in your lane and not drift into other lanes.
The next task is smooth stopping. For this, you will have to demonstrate that you can stop the vehicle smoothly without jerking it to a stop.
The next task is signaling. For this, you will have to demonstrate that you know how to properly signal when you are turning, changing lanes, or stopping.
Left and right turns
Although this sounds simple, you will be graded on how well you execute left and right turns. You will have to demonstrate that you know how to turn the vehicle without hitting any cones or going off of the road.
This is the task where you will have to demonstrate that you know how to properly approach and go through intersections.
Railroad crossings are the next task. For this, you will have to demonstrate that you know how to properly approach and cross railroad tracks.
Curves are the next task. For this, you will have to demonstrate that you know how to properly approach and go through curves. This is a very difficult task when you are first starting, but with practice, you will be able to master it.
Roadside Stopping and Starting
Last but not least is the roadside stop/start. For this, you will have to demonstrate that you know how to properly stop and start the vehicle on the side of the road.
Once you have completed all of these tasks, you will be given your CDL. If the person putting you through the test decides that you’ve done anything dangerous or illegal, they can fail you on the spot.
It is important to have proper posture when you are driving. You should be sitting up straight with your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. You should also be focused on the road and not be distracted by anything else in the vehicle.
How To Find a Job Driving Commercial Vehicles in Texas
Now that you have your CDL, you’re probably wondering how to find a job driving commercial vehicles in Texas. The best way to do this is to search online for trucking companies that are hiring in your area. You can also check with your local Department of Transportation to see if they have any openings.
Trucking companies will usually require you to have a certain amount of experience before they hire you. However, some companies are willing to train you if you don’t have any experience.
Below we will go over some tips on how to get hired as a truck driver:
Get On Job Sites Like Indeed
Indeed and other sites like it are a great resource for finding trucking companies that are hiring in your area. You can also use these sites to find out what the job requirements are and how much experience you need.
There are also specific sites that are dedicated solely to helping people get work in the trucking industry. One of these sites is Jobs In Trucks. This site has a list of trucking companies that are hiring and also has a forum where you can ask questions about the industry.
Check With Your Local Department of Transportation
As stated above, your local Department of Transportation may have some trucking companies that are hiring in your area. This is a great resource because you can find out what the requirements are and how to apply directly with the company.
Can A Texas CDL Be Transferred To Other States?
You can’t just move and be good to go. If you have a Texas CDL you need to get a new one within the state that you are moving to.
This doesn’t mean you have to retake the test though, all you have to do is wait to receive it 30-60 within becoming a resident of your new state.
Should You Throw Out Your Old CDL?
It’s actually against the rules to have two CDLs at the same time. So when you receive your new CDL in the mail, you should throw out your old one.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do CDLs Last In Texas?
When you get a CDL in Texas it will last you for 5 years before you have to renew it.
Renewing your CDL is relatively easy. All you have to do is fill out a renewal form and pay the fee. You can either do it over the phone or online.
You can renew your license up to 2 years in advance.
How Much Does It Cost To Get a CDL In Texas?
It’s a relatively cheap fee of only $97. This doesn’t include the money you spend on preparing for the test or taking it.
Can I get a CDL without going to school in Texas?
It is most definitely possible to get a CDL without going to school in Texas. However, it’s not recommended.
The main reason why you should go to trucking school is that it will give you the skills and knowledge you need to be a successful truck driver.
It’s also important to note that most trucking companies will require you to have a certain amount of experience before they hire you.
Going to trucking school is a great way to get the experience you need. Plus, it will also allow you to network with people in the industry which can help you find a job after you graduate.
Can I get a CDL online in Texas?
You can’t get your CDL online in Texas but there are plenty of ways to prepare for your CDL online. The multiple ways are YouTube, Google, and plenty of websites that have the information you need to succeed on your test.
We hope this guide has helped get you started on the path to getting your CDL in Texas. While the process may seem daunting at first, if you take it one step at a time, you’ll be driving a commercial vehicle in no time. Just remember to stay safe out there and good luck!
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