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CDL Training in Texas

If you live in Texas and like the idea of beginning a truck driving career, it’s important to know about the state’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements. This page explains the general CDL requirements in Texas, the costs of CDL training, and where to find more information to help you start your Texas trucking career.

CDL A Requirements in Texas

Commercial driver’s licenses come in three classes: A, B, and C. Generally speaking, CDL Class A is the most useful and will allow you to operate vehicles that fall under all three classes, depending on any additional endorsements needed for certain driving roles. So how do you get your CDL in Texas?

First, you’ll need a regular Texas driver’s license and must be at least 18 years old (21 if you want to be able to drive interstate). If you’re moving to Texas and have a license from another state, you can convert it to a Texas license by following several steps detailed on the Texas Department of Public Safety website.

Next, you’ll need to apply for a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP). For this, you’ll have to show proof of:

  • U.S. citizenship (or evidence of lawful presence)
  • Residency in Texas
  • Identity
  • Social Security number
  • Medical certification documents
  • Texas vehicle registration and insurance for any vehicles you own

You’ll also have to pay the application fee of $97, have your photo and fingerprints taken, pass a vision test, and pass the knowledge tests, to be taken in the following order:

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

Once you’ve received your CLP, the next step is to take a CDL training course in Texas. After completing training and holding your CLP for at least 14 days, you’ll need to schedule and pass your skills test.

What Disqualifies You From Getting a CDL in Texas?

Various alcohol, drug, and driving/traffic-related offenses disqualify you from being able to get a CDL in Texas. Using a vehicle to commit a felony will disqualify you from getting a CDL for life, as will second offenses in a range of alcohol and traffic-related felonies.

Other offenses—such as first offenses for driving under the influence or leaving the scene of an accident—will disqualify you for three years.

The Texas Department of Public Safety website provides a full list of disqualifications, along with information on how long specific offenses will disqualify you.

CDL Training Classes in Texas

As of February 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that entry-level drivers obtain training from a registered provider. The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) requirement applies to new learners applying for Class A or B CDLs, those upgrading from a Class B to a Class A CDL, or drivers obtaining a first-time passenger (P), school bus (S), or hazmat (H) endorsement.

CDL schools divide training into two sections: theory and behind-the-wheel training. Required training covers more than 50 units in the curriculum, including basic vehicle operation, administrative requirements, and safe operating procedures. While students can complete the theory training in a simulator, they must do the behind-the-wheel training sections on a range or a public road.

Students can take CDL courses at large trucking companies with in-house training programs and third-party providers listed in the Training Provider Registry.

How Much Does CDL Training Cost in Texas?

CDL training in Texas ranges from free to $10,000 or more. Company-paid CDL training options are often free or come at a minimal cost to new drivers, but there is the expectation (and contractual obligation) to work for that company for a specific period after obtaining a CDL. Some employers cover tuition costs entirely, while others have you repay them via small deductions from every paycheck.

Community college-based CDL training is also relatively affordable. For example, Austin Community College’s five-week full-time CDL A course costs $4,500. Northeast Texas Community College’s four-week CDL training costs $4,191.

Independent CDL schools usually cost more and don’t always advertise their tuition fees upfront. Financial aid or scholarships are available for some private CDL training schools.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Class A CDL in Texas?

It typically takes between four and eight weeks to complete CDL training in Texas if you’re studying full-time or close to it. If you’re going through part-time CDL training while also working for a trucking company (e.g., as a dockworker), you can expect the process to take longer.

How to Pay for Truck Driving School in Texas

Company-paid CDL training is one way to keep the out-of-pocket costs of training low. This kind of training isn’t necessarily “free” because even if you’re not required to pay upfront, you will have to pay back the costs in other ways later. But this could be a good way to train if you don’t have the capital to pay tuition and fees upfront.

Some institutions offer financial aid and scholarships, or students can apply external sources of funding to study at certain places. Check out the following:

  • Howes Truckers of Tomorrow Scholarships are awarded to some students at select Sage Truck Driving Schools, including those in Texas.
  • The Texas Trucking Association offers scholarships to member employees, dependents, and grandchildren.
  • Federal Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students displaying exceptional need. They can be used at some private CDL training schools, too, provided the driving program is long enough to be eligible for federal financial aid. Check with the school about this eligibility.
  • The Women in Trucking Foundation offers $1,000 scholarships to women pursuing trucking industry careers.

How to Choose the Best CDL Training Program

All potential students’ needs are different, so what’s great for the next person might not be ideal for you. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing the best CDL training program.

If you’re in a hurry to get your CDL, some courses are shorter than others. Shorter courses might require you to study more hours per week. Attending a school that utilizes third-party testers can expedite the process versus going directly to the DMV. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time and doing training that takes more than a couple of months, but consider your own circumstances when deciding.

Also, think about whether you mind being tied to one employer for the next few years. You can find “free” or low-cost CDL training via trucking companies, but this kind of training ties you to one employer until you’ve fulfilled your contractual obligations.

Other questions you should ask your potential training provider are about CDL pass rates, whether they can assist you in finding a job after you graduate, whether they offer refunds after you’ve signed up in case you change your mind, and whether they have flexible payment options (even if you’re not eligible for financial aid, you might be able to work out a payment plan). Also, check out online reviews to make sure there are no glaring red flags, and try to talk to graduates or current students to get personal opinions on the course.

Resources for Truck Driving Students in Texas

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
The Texas DMV provides practical information about licensing and the forms/identification you’ll need at different stages of the CDL application process.

Texas Trucking Association
The member-based trucking association offers all kinds of resources and tips related to careers in truck driving.

Trucking Jobs in Texas
Find out more about trucking careers in Texas.

Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook
The handbook has everything you need to know about being an effective commercial driver in Texas.

Truck Driving Schools Near Me

Texas Truck Driving Schools

160 Driving Academy - Houston

160 Driving Academy - Houston

160 Driving Academy - San Marcos

160 Driving Academy - Dallas

160 Driving Academy - Baytown

A+ CDL Academy - San Benito

Ace Driving Academy - Waco

Ace Kings CDL Academy - Houston

Action Career Training - Abilene

Alvin Community College - Alvin

Amarillo College - Amarillo

Amarillo College - Dumas

Amarillo College - Hereford

Aspire Truck Driving School - Richardson

ATDS Career Education - Killeen

ATDS Truck Driving School - Elm Mott

Austin CDL Services - Round Rock

Black Wolf CDL Training Center - Byran

C1 Truck Driver Training - Fort Worth

Career Trucking School - Tyler

CDL Felipe Service - Houston

CDL In Houston - Houston

CDL Segovia Transport - San Antonio

CDL. EP Texas Trucking School - El Paso

Center for Employment Education - Austin

Center for Employment Training - El Paso

Central Texas College - Killeen

Changing Lanes CDL School - Pflugerville

Class A CDL - Houston

Coastal Bend College - Kingsville

Collin County Community College - Princeton

Community Truck Driving School - Pflugerville

Community Truck Driving School - Round Rock

Continental Truck Driver Training & Education School - Dallas

Cultural Technical Institute - El Paso

Dallas College - Dallas

Del Mar College - Corpus Christi

Del Mar College - Corpus Christi

Edge Tech Academy - Arlington

Elite University - Houston

Elite University - Rosharon

Five Star CDL Training - Dallas

Fort Worth CDL School - Fort Worth

Global Driving School - Houston

Houston Community College - Houston

Houston Community College - Houston

Howard College - San Angelo

International Schools - El Paso

International Truck Driving School - Snyder

Kilgore College - Kilgore

Kilgore College - Longview

KLLM Driving Academy - Lancaster

Knight Transportation - El Paso

Lamar Institute of Technology - Beaumont

Lamar State College - Orange

Lamar State College - Port Arthur

Laredo Community College - Laredo

Lee College - Baytown

LHCT Training Center - Laredo

Lone Star College - Houston

Lone Star College - Houston

Lone Star College - Spring

Lone Star College - Spring

Lufkin Truck Driving Academy - Lufkin

Maverick Driving Academy - Burleson

McLennan Community College - Waco

Midland College-Transportation Training Department - Midland

Millis Training Institute - Burleson

MT Training Center - Grand Prairie

North Texas Institute for Career Development - Fort Worth

Northeast Texas Community College - Mt Pleasant

Odessa College - Odessa

On Track Truck Driving School - Arlington

Phoenix Truck Driving School - El Paso

Platt College - McAllen

Platt College - San Antonio

Prime Time CDL - Canutillo

Pro Trucking CDL Academy - Laredo

R&B Vocational Training - Rockwall

R&B Vocational Training - Tyler

Rapid CDL - Carthage

Reyna CDL Training - Austin

Roehl Transport - Houston

Sage Truck Driving School - San Antonio

San Jacinto College - Pasadena

San Jacinto College - Deer Park

San Jacinto College - Houston

South Plains College Lubbock Center - Lubbock

South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Brownsville

South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Corpus Christi

South Texas Vocational Technical Institute - Weslaco

Southern Careers Institute - Austin

Southern Careers Institute - San Antonio

Southwest Texas Junior College - Uvalde

Star Career Training - Del Rio

Stevens Transport - Dallas

Stevens Transport - Laredo

Swift Transportation - Corsicana

Swift Transportation - Houston

Texarkana College - Texarkana

Texas CDL Institute - Mission

Texas CDL Training - San Antonio

Texas State Technical College - Harlingen

Texas State Technical College - South Marshall

Texas State Technical College - Waco

Troops Into Transportation - Fort Hood

Truck Training - Houston

TruckGod CDL Training - Grand Prairie

Victoria College - Gonzales

Vision Truck Driving School - Dallas

Werner Enterprises - Laredo

Western Technical College - El Paso

Western Texas College - San Marcos

Wise CDL Training - Mission