When Do You Need A CDL In Texas?

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The Federal government requires drivers of all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to hold a CDL. Here’s what you need to know about requirements and training to get a CDL in Texas.

If you want to drive a large or commercial vehicle on public roads in Texas or anywhere in the United States, you must possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

A CDL permits the operation of 18-wheelers, buses, trucks that haul hazardous materials, and more. Before you can get a CDL, you must get a CDL permit.

To get the permit, you will need to have specialized skills and training. So how do you receive training for a CDL in Texas?

At Southern Careers Institute, you can get that training through our Commercial Vehicle Operator Program.

What Vehicles Require a CDL in Texas?

The Federal government requires drivers of all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to hold a CDL.

A vehicle is commercial when a company owns or registers it for the transportation of products or passengers.

Most CMVs are heavier and more difficult to maneuver than standard passenger automobiles. Furthermore, a large truck generally weighs more than 10,000 pounds.

Types of CDL Classifications

CDLs fall under three classifications. These classifications are based on the weight of the vehicle and what it carries. GVWR is the gross vehicle weight rating. 

Class A

The Federal government requires a Class-A CDL to drive any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. 

This includes a towed vehicle heavier than 10,000 pounds. The following are examples of Class A vehicles:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Tractor-trailer buses
  • Truck and trailer combinations (double and triple trailers)
  • Flatbeds
  • Tanker vehicles
  • Livestock carriers

Class B

A Class-B commercial driver’s license is needed to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or greater and/or that vehicle towing another weighing up to 10,001 pounds. This includes vehicles designed to carry 24 or more passengers, including the driver.

The following are examples of Class B vehicles:

  • Straight trucks
  • Large buses (school buses, city buses, tour buses)
  • Segmented buses
  • Dump trucks with small trailers
  • Box trucks (Couriers, delivery drivers, furniture/appliance delivery)
  • Motor Homes   

Class C

Vehicles that do not meet the criteria for Class A or Class B may require a Class C commercial driver’s license. These vehicles are meant to transport at least 16 passengers, including the driver, or hazardous materials (HAZMAT).

This includes:

  • Passenger vans
  • HAZMAT vehicles

CDL Endorsements

Depending on what the vehicle you drive is transporting, certain endorsements may be required. An endorsement allows the operation of certain types of vehicles and transportation of specific items. Additionally, other testing is required to obtain an endorsement.

  • H Endorsement (Hazardous Materials) – This endorsement is required if you will be transporting any hazardous materials, such as gases, explosives, flammables, or combustible liquids.
  • N Endorsement (Tank Vehicle) – The N endorsement is for vehicles that carry liquids or liquefied gaseous materials.
  • P Endorsement (Passenger) – This allows for the operation of a vehicle that carries a specific number of passengers, as specified by the state you live in. For Texas, that number is 16 or more.
  • S Endorsement (School Bus) – School bus drivers must have the S Endorsement attached to their CDLs.
  • T Endorsement (Double/Triple Trailer) – The T endorsement allows you to tow a double or triple trailer.
  • X Endorsement ( N and H Combination) – This endorsement allows you to transport hazardous materials in a tank vehicle.   

Requirements for a CDL in Texas

An individual wishing to obtain a CDL in Texas must have a clean driving record. A suspended license in any state will make you ineligible to apply.

To drive intrastate (within Texas state lines only), the age requirement is 18 years old.

Those wishing to drive interstate (across state and international borders) must be 21 years of age.

Once you meet all the requirements to apply and pass the written test, you will receive a Commercial Driver’s Permit (CLP).

This permit gives you the opportunity to practice driving under the supervision of a CDL holder for at least 14 days. After that period, you can take your CDL skills exam to get your license.   

Applying for a CDL in Texas

To apply for a CDL in Texas, you must present the following credentials to your local DMV:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, passport, resident card)
  • Social Security Card
  • Two proofs of Texas residency (mortgage statement, valid voter registration card, Texas motor vehicle registration)
  • Proof of identity (Texas driver’s license)
  • Self-certification of medical status
  • A medical examiner’s certificate
  • Evidence of Texas vehicle registration and proof of insurance

You must then take and pass a written CDL test including those for any endorsements you wish to attach to your license.

You will also need to pay an application fee, provide your thumbprint, pass a vision exam, and have your picture taken. 


The CDL Exam

The knowledge portion of the CDL exam is made up of a combination of multiple-choice and matching questions.

It is also important to note that it cannot be taken online. It includes and must be taken in the following order:

  1. Texas Commercial Rules
  2. General Knowledge
  3. Combination (for Class A only)
  4. Air Brake (if applicable)
  5. Endorsements

You must answer 80 percent of the test questions correctly before a permit can be issued and the skills test can be administered.

Additionally, you must schedule the skills test; it consists of three parts:

  1. Vehicle Inspection
  2. Air brake Inspection Test
  3. On-road exam

Lastly, you will be tested on starting, backing up, parallel parking, quick and smooth stopping, and lane changing. Additionally, testing is done on upshifting and downshifting, merging, posture, right-of-way, knowledge of traffic signs, and turns. 

Prepare for Your CDL in Texas

The Commercial Vehicle Operator program at SCI can thoroughly prepare you to sit for the Class A CDL with Air Brakes and Combination Endorsements exam.

Here, you will receive a solid foundation for over-the-road driving in a standard sleeper cab truck with a 53′ trailer.

In as little as four weeks, you can become skilled in:

  • Hands-on Driving
  • Basic and Advanced Operation
  • Turning, Backing, and Hooking & Unhooking
  • Handling Cargo
  • Emergency Maneuvers and Hazard Perception
  • Safety Procedures and Regulations
  • Vehicle Systems and Reporting
  • Environmental Compliance

Be in control of your life and enroll now at Southern Careers Institute!

Our friendly admissions staff will help you get started on your career as a professional truck or large passenger vehicle driver.



  • https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/CommercialLicense.htm
  • https://www.dmv.org/cdl-endorsements.php
  • https://www.dmv.com/tx/texas/cdl-commercial-drivers-license-application


Blog Disclaimer: Information stated in this blog is for general information purposes only. SCITexas.edu does not assume or guarantee income earning potential or salary expectations based on the programs offered at Southern Careers Institute. Career and program information stated in this blog does not guarantee that programs and specifics are offered at Southern Careers Institute.

This article was published on: 03/24/20 9:09 PM

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