If you were considering becoming a truck driver in California, read this guide first to discover if you meet the requirements, and what you need to do to become a commercial driver.
Article Table of Contents
Meeting the Criteria
Californian truck drivers need a special license, and at times even some endorsements, in order to do their job.
To get the license you first have to make sure you:
- Are at least 21 years old – for double or triple trailers, to transport hazardous materials, or drive out of state
- You can be at least 18 if you won’t be driving under the above conditions.
- Are an American citizen, or prove you can work in America
- Pass the background check, both criminal and of your driving record
- Your driving records must be top-notch
- Are drug-free
- Are in good physical condition, as you will be required to lift and carry heavy items
Once you meet all those requirements, it’s time to see which license you need, start training, and pass the license exam.
It’s possible to be asked to have at least 1 year of driving experience, so keep this in mind as well, before you enroll.
Depending on the truck’s weight and what you’re supposed to haul, you can get one of these 3 licenses:
- Class A: for combination vehicles of more than 26,000 pounds and pulling a trailer of over 10,000 pounds
- Class B: for single or combination vehicles; the single vehicle is more than 26,000 pounds and the pulled trailer under 10,000 pounds
- Class C: for single or combination vehicles that can’t be described as above; for buses of over 16 people; or when transporting of hazardous materials
- Class D: for personal cars.
The licenses allow the holder to drive vehicles in the classes under his class, but not the ones above his class.
You can add extra endorsements to the first 3 classes, to allow you to drive under a variety of situations.
There are dozens of driving schools in California, and this can make choosing one a bit more difficult.
The most successful have branches in more cities and they make a great choice.
Others may offer programs for small groups, and if you feel intimidated by driving a truck, these ones could be the right choice for you.
While the tuition is also important, do remember that it’s possible to get a scholarship, so make sure to ask about this and see if you qualify.
Some of the schools offer programs at the end of which you’ll earn a degree, and some even offer extra classes for extra certifications.
These are the specialties of some of the courses:
- smoke inspection
- truck mechanic
- air quality
|101 School of Trucking||3897 Market St. Ventura, CA 93003|
|A-1 Truck Driving School||2977 Baumberg Ave Hayward CA 94545|
|AB Truck Driving School||1346 E Taylor St, San Jose, CA 95133|
|Academy of Truck Driving||2585 Buna St, Bldg. 99, Oakland CA 94607 (at Port of Oakland)|
|Academy of Truck Driving/Advance Bus & Truck Driving School||315 West Fyffe Ave Ste 162 (Port of Stockton)|
|Advanced Career Institute - Visalia||1728 N. Kelsey Street | Visalia, CA 93291|
|Advanced Career Institute - Fresno||2953 S. East Avenue | Fresno, CA 93725|
|Advanced Career Institute - Merced||1741 Ashby Road, Suite B | Merced, CA 95348|
|Advanced School of Driving||13946 Jurupa Avenue, Fontana, CA 92337|
|Akal Truck & Bus Driving School||2010 S Union Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93307|
|Alliance School of Trucking||9410 Jordan Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311|
|America Truck Driving School||2210 N. Main St, Ste B, Santa Ana, CA 92706|
|America Truck Driving School||420 W. Second Ave. Escondido, CA 92025|
|America Truck Driving School||12701 Magnolia Ave Riverside, CA 92503|
|America Truck Driving School||1104 E. 148th St. Compton, CA 90220|
|Anthony Soto Employment Training Centers||1015 Center Drive, Suite B, Santa Rosa, CA 95403|
|Aztlan Truck Driving School||400 E. Manchester, Los Angeles, CA 90003|
|Best Bay Area Truck Driving School||3150 Kenneth St, Santa Clara, CA 95054|
|California Career School||1100 Technology Circle, Anaheim, CA 92805|
|California Career School||1280 Rancho del Oro Oceanside, CA 92056|
|California Career School||3963 Bullion Mountain Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277|
|California Truck Driving Academy||921 N. Poinsettia Street, Unit A, Santa Ana, CA 92701|
|Camino Real Career School||13674 East Valley Boulevard, La Puente, CA 91746|
|Center for Employment Training (CET)||1099 N. Pepper Avenue Colton, CA 92324|
|Center for Employment Training (CET)||294 South 3rd Street El Centro, CA 92243|
|Center for Employment Training (CET)||761 South C Street Oxnard, CA 93030|
|Center for Employment Training (CET)||509 W Morrison Avenue Santa Maria, CA 93458|
|Center for Employment Training (CET)||930 Los Coches Drive Soledad, CA 93960|
|Central Storage Driving School||8520 E Panama Lane, Bakersfield, CA 93307-9400|
|Coastal Trucking Institute||11 W. Laurel Dr #251, Salinas, CA 93906|
|Commercial Drivers Learning Center||1787 Tribute Rd Ste L, Sacramento, CA 95815|
|Dolphin Trucking School||Main Office: 4820 S.Eastern Ave. Unit O Commerce, CA 90040 Training Address: 5600 Rickenbacker Rd., Building 2AB, Bell, CA 90201|
|Dootson Truck Driving School||11625 Clark Street, Arcadia, CA 91006|
|Dynasty Truck & Bus Driving School||1810 S. Reservoir Street, Pomona, CA 91766|
|Edison Truck & Bus Driving School||2024 N Durfee Ave El Monte CA 91733|
|El Monte Truck Driving||15545 Arrow Hwy, Baldwin Park, CA 91706|
|Five Rivers Truck School||2224 South Maple Ave, Fresno, CA 93725|
|Golden State Truck School||3058 N. Beachwood Dr Merced, CA 95348|
|Green Valley Truck School||400 12th St Ste 16, Modesto CA 95354|
|GSF Driving & Truck Training School||731 East Slauson Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90011|
|GSF Driving & Truck Training School||1515 Evergreen Street Los Angeles, CA 90023|
|GSF Driving & Truck Training School||16205-16211 Filbert St, Sylmar, CA 91342|
|Hi-Desert Trucking School||42739 5th St. East, Lancaster, CA 93535|
|Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program||687 W State Street, El Centro, CA 92243-2943|
|International Truck School||1658 S.Airport Way, Stockton, CA 95206|
|JGC Truck Driving Training||3167 Santa Rosa Ave. Santa Rosa, CA 95407|
|Jiffy's CDL Truck Rental||875 Hartnell Ave, Redding, California 96002|
|Las Americas Truck Driving School||1304 Mildred Ave, Ontario, CA 91761|
|Maatson Trucking School||4475 DuPont Court – Suite 4 Ventura, CA 93003|
|Major Express Trucking School||3342 N Weber Ave, Fresno, CA 93722|
|Mission Hill Truck School||521 Bystrum Rd, Modesto, CA 95351|
|Momax Truck Driving School||302 W 19th St. National City, CA 91950|
|MTS Training||140 Yolano Drive, Vallejo, CA 94589|
|National Truck Driving School||2344-B Industrial Pkwy West Hayward, CA 94545|
|NorCal Truck Driving School||20010 Viking Way, Ste A, Redding, CA 96003|
|Northern California Teamsters Apprentice Training and Education Trust (NCTAT)||14738 Cantova Way Rancho Murieta, CA 95683|
|Pilot Trucking School||10375 Beech Ave. Suite B Fontana, CA 92337|
|Premier Truck Driving Schools||10691 Poplar Ave, Fontana, CA 92337|
|Professional Trucking School||1775 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90813|
|Proteus, Inc.||1830 N. Dinuba Blvd. Visalia, CA 93291|
|Proteus, Inc.||3454 E. Date Ave Fresno CA 93725|
|Roadmaster Drivers School of Fontana, CA||10251 Calabash Ave, Fontana, CA 92335|
|Royal Truck Driving School||3726 South Highway 99, Stockton, CA 95215|
|Safeway Truck & Bus Driving School||7844 Cox Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93307|
|San Jose Trucking School||658 N King Rd, San Jose, CA 95133|
|Skyway Trucking School||16934 Smoketree St Hesperia CA 92345|
|TDA Educational Systems||3079 Kilgore Rd, Suite C, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670|
|TDA Educational Systems||1250 Market Street, Suite A, Yuba City, CA 95991|
|TDA Educational Systems||1012 11th St, Suite LL4, Modesto, CA 95354|
|TDA Educational Systems||10557 Juniper Avenue, Suite M, Fontana 92337|
|TGA Truck Driving School||1115 South Taylor Ave Montebello, CA 90640|
|Toro School of Truck Driving||9631 Alondra Bvd Bellflower CA 90706|
|Toro School of Truck Driving||2209 E. Chapman Ave Fullerton, CA 92831|
|Toro School of Truck Driving||321 W. 135th St Los Angeles, CA 90061|
|Truck Driver Institute||1150 Main St, Watsonville, CA 95076|
|Truck Nation||4800 Elm St, Salida, CA 95368|
|Truck Nation||2055 E North Ave, Fresno, CA 93725|
|Union Truck School||2201 South Union Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93307|
|United Truck Driving School||4525 E. Commerce Ave, Fresno, CA 93725|
|United Truck Driving School||2425 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108|
|United Truck Driving School||1737 Atlanta Ave. H-7, Riverside, CA 92507|
|Universal Truck Driving School||1600 S. Hill St #A, Los Angeles, CA 90015|
|Universal Truck Driving School||2209 W. Arrow Rte #A, Upland, CA 91786|
|Western Pacific Truck School||1002 N Broadway Ave. Stockton CA 95205|
|Western Pacific Truck School||2200 Lapham Drive Modesto CA 95358|
|Western Pacific Truck School||8180 Industrial Parkway Sacramento CA 95826|
|Western Truck School||3990 Industrial Blvd. West Sacramento, CA 95691|
|Western Truck School||5800 State Rd. #7, Bakersfield, CA 93308|
|Western Truck School||11902 Campo Rd Spring Valley CA 91978|
|West Hills Community College District||9900 Cody St, Coalinga, CA 93210|
You’ll have to pass a driving test and a knowledge exam as well.
The exam is not free, and getting the license costs $70.
You’ll have to pay $40 to retake the exam if you fail the first time.
Renewing the license costs $41.
The median salary in California for these drivers is $49,400 per year, while those in the top 10% make around $57,250 per year.
The median salary in the United States for these drivers is $44,225 annually, while those in the top 10% make around $51,254 per year.
It’s worth noting that having more certifications can increase your yearly salary.Annual Salary Range: Annual Salary by Location:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
Regional Salary in California
|Region||Employed||Avg. Annual Salary||Avg. Hourly Pay||Top 10% Annual Salary||Bottom 10% Annual Salary|
|El Centro, CA||1,060||$48,710||$23.42||$65,320||$32,020|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||53,870||$54,290||$26.1||$75,640||$36,010|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||2,430||$52,640||$25.31||$72,530||$36,270|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||37,210||$54,160||$26.04||$76,720||$34,230|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||9,240||$53,720||$25.83||$75,910||$35,440|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||15,570||$64,120||$30.83||$92,440||$41,240|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||4,630||$62,380||$29.99||$80,200||$41,670|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||640||$52,890||$25.43||$71,230||$36,780|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||580||$51,760||$24.88||$68,890||$34,300|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||1,530||$53,500||$25.72||$76,610||$34,950|
|Santa Rosa, CA||1,610||$57,520||$27.66||$74,330||$38,020|
|Yuba City, CA||1,500||$55,260||$26.57||$68,330||$36,810|
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.
There are many different settings in which you can find a job once you get your CDL in California.