TSTC CDL trainer Paul Hildebrandt, second from left, leads a recent training session.

Designation means students may earn their CDLs in less time

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – The Texas Department of Public Safety recently designated Texas State Technical College’s campus in Fort Bend County as a third-party testing site for individuals seeking to earn their commercial driver’s license, or CDL.

Usually students had to schedule and take the test through the DPS. Depending on the region, wait times could stretch for months.

“It’s a challenge across the state,” said Robert Ramirez, a CDL trainer at TSTC’s campus in Harlingen. “It impacts the student greatly. There are expectations of them. They have to go to work, make money, be in the field a certain amount of time. The possibility of having to wait up to half a year to get your license is difficult.”

Ramirez recently visited TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus to test students who were hoping to earn their CDL after being trained by Paul Hildebrandt, the campus’ CDL trainer. Trainers cannot test students who they have trained themselves.

“I applaud Paul,” Ramirez said after his testing experience. “They were great students — very respectful, very knowledgeable. One of them has probably been the best student I’ve tested.”

Testing typically includes a vehicle inspection, backing maneuvers and a driving portion.

Hildebrandt, who has been testing students who trained at TSTC’s campus in Marshall but tested at the Fort Bend County campus, also experienced tight scheduling challenges.

“To be state approved to do third-party testing is a huge relief,” he said. “Students will get a consistent testing experience.”

Kori Bowen, senior executive director of workforce training at TSTC, said that students interested in earning a CDL through TSTC have much to look forward to.

“The DPS testing site designation is extremely valuable for our students,” she said. “As a result, our students are able to enter into industry sooner and begin earning faster.”

Seeing that hard work come to fruition in the form of in-demand, well-paying jobs is something Ramirez finds fulfilling.

“We’re very excited for opportunities like that for our students,” he said. “It truly is a blessing to be a part of the CDL team at TSTC.”

While some may only picture driving a semitrailer when they think of CDL-holders, Ramirez added that there are many fields — and opportunities — within the industry, including lucrative HAZMAT trucking.

Bowen agreed.

“In addition, varying route assignments, regional or long-distance, provide a CDL-holder with different options to best fit their personal lifestyle and professional goals,” she said.

TSTC offers CDL training at its Fort Bend County, Harlingen and Marshall campuses.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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