How to Get a CDL License in California Are you looking for a rewarding career as a commercial vehicle or a truck driver in this year 2020? It is a rewarding profession as you enjoy benefits like a good wage, flexible lifestyle and a stable job.

California has a growing demand for professional drivers as well, this fact will certainly convince you to leap into this exciting job right away.

Drivers are very well in demand right now and will be in the coming years, right now is the time to take action.

But before you delve into this job, you need a CDL as this will permit you to drive a commercial vehicle. This license will separate you from other job candidates if you have this.

If you don’t know how to get a CDL license in California, we made this simple guide to help you start the process.

Read on...

Steps to Follow in Obtaining a CDL License

  1. Prior to earning your CDL license, you have to get first a leaner’s permit, getting this permit involves passing a written test. If you want to apply for the learner’s permit, see below for the requirements.

  2. Once you have obtained your leaner’s permit, you then go to a truck driving school to complete the training course to gain the much-needed experience. Attending the school will prepare you to pass the CDL tests especially the coverage and topics of the road test. The list of schools in California is below for your reference. While the school’s tuition will form part of the expenses in getting a CDL, but spending some amount will surely increase the odds of passing the written and road tests.

  3. Once you have acquired the theoretical knowledge and practical skills in driving commercial vehicles, it is time to take the road test. You can make a test schedule at the local testing DMV office,  or the school can assist you in making an appointment. You have to make sure that you are already familiar with the vehicle you want to get a CDL for on the test day. This is because the road test will revolve around on your chosen vehicle, you will perform the backing maneuver, pre-trip inspection. Make your assessor happy, you will be guaranteed of passing the test.

  4. Pay the corresponding fees. After you pass the tests, you are ready to apply for the CDL at the local DMV office. Presently, the application fee for CDL A and B in California is $70.00 while Class C is $41.00, this doesn’t include the applicable fees of endorsement you want to apply.

Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) Requirements & Application

The requirements you need to have are the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must have in your possession a valid driver’s license (DL) prior to submitting an application
  • Must submit a Completed Commercial Driver License Application (DL 44C) form. Signing this document confirms that you are agreed to undergo substance abuse and alcohol tests.
  • You must submit an Approved Medical Examination Report Form, (MER). A valid (original or copy) federal MER MCSA-5875 form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form, (MEC) MCSA5876. This has to be completed by a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, licensed physician’s assistant, registered advanced practice nurse, or licensed doctor of chiropractic.
  • You must submit a document stating your legal presence in the US and must show proof of being a California resident.
  • Complete a 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939).
  • Social Security Card is also required.
  • The corresponding application fees.

The CLP application process is below:

  1. The first for you to take a to get a copy of the latest California CDL Handbook, where you can download here.  The handbook has everything you need to know in order to apply for the CLP and some tips on how to pass the tests.

  2. The next step is to decide what type of commercial vehicle you want to operate and what endorsement you want to apply so that you can prepare for it.

  3. The final step is to make an appointment for the test schedule. Before you go to the testing center make sure that you study beforehand so that you can boost your chance of passing the knowledge test.

Truck Driving Schools in the State of California

If you want to be a professionally-trained driver, a truck driving school is what you need start getting trained. If you are looking for a school where you can enroll and take the course, here are what you can find in California:

  • A-1 Truck Driving School
    4901-A Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94601
  • All-Star Truck&Bus Driving School
    4901-A Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94601
  • Academy of Truck Driving
    2585 Buna St Bldg. 99, Oakland, CA 94607
  • A-1 Truck Driving School
    27910 Industrial Boulevard, Hayward, CA 94545
  • All Star Truck & Bus Driving School
    27910 Industrial Boulevard, Hayward, CA 94545
  • Action Driving School
    3033 South Flower Street,Los Angeles, CA 90007
  • Aztlan Truck Driving School
    E. 400 Manchester Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90003
  • GSF Truck Driving&Truck School
    1515 Evergreen Street, Los Angeles, CA 90023
  • Toro School of Truck Driving
    321 W 135th St, Los Angeles, CA 90061
  • Universal Truck Driving School Inc.
    1600 S Hill St #A, Los Angeles, CA 90015
  • Advance School of Driving
    13946 Jurupa Avenue, Fontana, CA 92337
  • AIT Truck Driver Training
    14235 Slover Ave, Fontana, CA 92337
  • America Truck Driving School
    1471 Pomona Rd Ste A, Corona, CA 92882
  • Allwin Trucking School
    169 N. Maple St., Unit C, Corona, CA 91786
  • AKAL Truck&Bus Driving School
    416 Fairview Rd, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • Central Storage Trucking School
    8520 E Panama Ln, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • Dasmesh Truck Driving School
    2572 South Union Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • Diamond Truck School
    303 Taft Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • Safeway Truck&Bus School
    1500 E Brundage Lane, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • Union Truck Driving School
    2201 South Union Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93307
  • Western Truck School Bakersfield Campus
    5800 State Rd 7, Bakersfield, CA 93308
  • United Truck Driving School
    2425 Camino Del Rio, San Diego, CA 92108
  • Western Truck School-San Diego Campus
    11902 Campo Rd, Spring Valley, CA 91978
  • Five Rivers Truck School
    2224 South Maple, Fresno, CA 93725
  • Major Express Truck School
    3342 N Weber Ave, Fresno, CA 93722
  • Proteus INC-Fresno Truck Driving School
    3454 E. Date Ave, Fresno, CA 93725
  • Truck Nation School
    2055 E. North Avenue, Fresno, CA 93725
  • Ace Truck Driving School
    777 Railroad Ave, Pittsburg, CA 94565
  • C.R England
    2250 South Riverside Avenue, Colton, CA 92324
  • United Truck Driving School
    1737 Atlanta Ave H-7, Riverside, CA 92507
  • Commercial Drivers Learning Center
    1787 Tribute Rd Ste L, Sacramento, CA 95815
  • National Truck Driving School
    4585 Pell Drive, Sacramento, CA 95838
  • TDA Education Systems
    3100 Fite Street Suite 105, Sacramento, CA 95827
  • Western pacific Truck School
    8180 Industrial Parkway, Sacramento, CA 95826
  • Western Truck School-West Sacramento Campus
    4519 W Capitol Ave, West Sacramento, CA 95691
  • Alliance School of Trucking, Inc.
    9410 Jordan Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311
  • AB Truck& Bus Driving School
    1346 E Taylor St, San Jose, CA
  • San Jose Trucking School
    658 N King Rd, San Jose, CA 95133
  • California Truck Driving Academy
    921 N. Poinsettia Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701
    Contact: 1-800-581-2048; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    7473 Reese Rd Suite 2 Sacramento CA 95828
    Phone: (916)850-9952

Criteria You Can Follow in Picking the Right Truck Driving School

Now that you may have chosen a school from the list above, do keep in mind that not all are the same. With varied options, the schools differ in tuition, training length, quality. Here are some criteria you can follow to help you choose the best school:

  • Find a school that has helped hundreds of students obtain their CDL. This school tends to be reputable and does value the program they give to their students. If you want to make sure if the school had produced successful students, just ask your colleagues or the school itself about the students they helped to pass.

  • If scheduling is an issue for you, find a school that offers classes during daytime hours, attend the evening classes or complete the training on the weekend. This is good if scheduling is a problem for you as you have other things to attend to.

  • Find a school that offers scholarships to eligible students so that tuition would not be a big hassle if you qualified. This is a perfect option to finance your education as you would not have to shoulder the cost of the training. Inquire in the school if they offer such a scholarship and if you can qualify for.

  • Find a driving school that will train you in both manual and automatic transmission. You may have heard from other people that driving a manual transmission is a thing of the past, and automatic transmission is the new trend of the job. But you’re making a big mistake, manual transmission trucks still being used today. If you are only skilled driving automatic transmission, you missing a big opportunity as trucking companies still have a large fleer of manual transmission vehicles.

  • Find a class with a low student-to-trainer ratio. The ideal number of students per trainer is 4-5. A large number of students in the class will certainly make it a big crowd. Too many students attending the same class will surely suffer your education as you would not get the time and attention of the trainer.

  • Find a driving school that offers job placement assistance upon graduation. Driving schools nowadays have such assistance they offer to their students. This is great for obvious reasons, as you don’t have to break a leg in finding an employer who will hire you.

Essential Tips in Passing the CDL Written and Road Skills Tests

As with any type of exams you have taken in the past, passing the CDL tests will certainly takes a lot of effort and enough time to study to increase your chance of passing it in the first try. With these tips, you will learn in no time:

  • Get a copy of the current California CDL Manual, learning the specifics of the CDL application process and what is required is an ideal way of getting an edge passing the tests. Studying the manual makes you comfortable taking the written exam.

  • Take a practice test to make you familiar with the type of questions that will appear in the actual exam. This practice test also enables you to determine your strong and weak points so that you can improve on it as well. Let’s say for example, you’re good at airbrake but at not so in Hazmat test or vice versa. Taking the practice test is a good way to get a sneak peek of what will the exams will be.

  • You have to know how to do these maneuvers. You may be asked to perform inside and outside truck inspections, straight line backing, stop line, serpentine, 90-degree alley docking, coupling, sliding tandems, city driving, and highway driving. You have exert effort in practicing these before you do it in action with the assessor.

  • Avoid these at all circumstances when taking the road test: when you’re taking the driving test, don’t stall the vehicle as this will automatically fail you the test. Also be aware of the curbs when turning the vehicle, don’t hit the road curb, You will also fail if you don’t watch out for the stop signs/yellow signs when going to an intersection. And if you go on the hill, do roll back, as it will also make you fail automatically the test.

  • You will need to know where to find the stuff are inside your truck. Let’s say for example, you need to know how to turn the windshield wipers on when it starts to rain, you have to know where it is located, you don’t need be looking away from road trying to find where something is. So that you can use it when you have to use it in the middle of the test. The assessor will certainly observe you about this.

  • Make sure you take off in the right gear. If you take long to take off in the middle of an intersection, the assessor will grade you on that aspect. Make sure you’re taking off on the proper gear.

  • Put your both hands on the steering wheel at all times unless you’re signaling or shifting gear. You may fail the test by not doing that simple thing. The assessor will grade you on this aspect as well.

  • Be sure that you stop behind the stop line at the intersection. This is something you don’t do if you are driving a car but it matters when you are driving a truck, and it certainly matters more if an assessor is sitting beside you grading your driving skill.

Salary of Licensed Truck Driver in California in 2020

The bottom line of getting into this profession is the salary you can make as a truck driver. If you are asking how much you can make as a truck driver in California, well, according to the latest December 26, 2019 report of Salary.Com, the salary on average is $58,765 but since there’s a deviation cause by some factors, it typically falls between $51,892 and $67,385. 

Salary deviates widely. The factors that affect it are the experience you have as a driver, other qualifications you can bring to the job, the city or location where you are working.

There’s a good job outlook for truck drivers. As the economy grows so as the demand for truck drivers to keep the supply chain moving. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job vacancies of truck drivers is projected to grow by nearly 200,000 jobs from the year 2012 to 2022.

The demand trend will continue until the next coming years as more and more freight need to be hauled and transported because of the growing economy and growing population. You can certainly build future career in this industry.

To Finalize This

Before you go out there and start the process of taking CDL license in California, be well informed first as this help you lessen the risk of committing mistake and reduce the time it takes to get your CDL license.

Be diligent also in picking the right truck driving school as there a number of choices out there

Think all the aspects before getting a job as truck driver because you would not want to risk money and time into something you would not like in the long run. This is the most important decision you should make, so it is better to think if this job is the one fits you.

We would like to wish you good luck in your career! Be safe on the road!

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