Best CDL Trucking Schools in California – 2021 Round-up

| Last Updated: May 20, 2021

Considering a career as a truck driver might feel overwhelming as you take your first steps in the trucking industry. 

Whether you opt for a full-time trucking career or just a part-time job to support you, you’re going to need a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Getting enrolled in a driver’s training program at a trucking school can get you a valid CDL. This article sheds some light on the best trucking schools in California that you can opt for.

Photo credit: latruckingcollege.com

How to Get a CDL in California

Every state has its own rules and regulations for obtaining a valid CDL as a truck driver. Here are a few basic requirements that you must fulfill to get a CDL in California.

  • Must be 18 years of age for intrastate and 21 years of age for interstate driving

  • Provide a medical examination report

  • Supply proof of your Social Security number

  • Deliver proof about completing and passing the CDL examination

Once you have fulfilled the basic requirements, it’s time to get your commercial learner’s permit (CLP). For this, you must provide

  • Commercial Driver’s License Application

  • Ten-year history record check form

  • Medical examination report form, thoroughly completed by a medical expert

  • Self-certification form for the type of commercial driving you wish to pursue

  • Pass a vision test and a written exam

After meeting these requirements, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will provide you a commercial learner’s permit. 

You can now get enrolled in a truck-driving training program at a trucking school to get familiar with vehicles. There, you will learn how to drive, inspect, and maintain vehicles you wish to operate. Finally, you can apply for a full-time CDL by passing the skills and driving test.

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CDL Variations Available in California

There are different types of commercial driver’s licenses that you can acquire in California. The kind of CDL you need depends on the type of vehicle you wish to drive. The following are the three different types of CDL that you can obtain.

Class A CDL

Class A CDL is a requirement if you wish to drive a combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 26,000 pounds or more. Moreover, you must get a Class A CDL if the GCWR of the towed vehicle is above 10,000 pounds. 

Once you have obtained your Class A license, you can operate several vehicles, including flatbeds, tractor-trailers, tankers, livestock carriers, etc. You can also operate certain Class B and Class C vehicles, provided that you have proper endorsements.

Class B CDL

Class B CDL is essential for operating a single vehicle with a GCWR of 26,000 pounds or more. However, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GCWR) of the towed vehicle should not exceed a maximum of 10,000 pounds. With this license, you can drive some Class C CDL vehicles with proper endorsements.

Class C CDL

Class C CDL is applicable for those vehicles that don’t fit in Class A or B. This license is required for vehicles that transport dangerous materials. It is also a requirement for driving vehicles that can carry sixteen or more passengers.

Review of the Best CDL Trucking Schools in California

Opting for a reputable CDL trucking school in California is not an easy task. With so many prestigious trucking schools operating in the area, choosing one of them gets quite difficult. To ease the process, we have listed some of the best CDL trucking schools that you can consider in California.

Best CDL Trucking School in Fresno, CA:
United Truck Driving School

Trucking School Details

  • Locations: 4525 E. Commerce Avenue Fresno, CA 93725
  • Website: https://www.unitedtruckschool.com/
  • Average Tuition Cost: $3850
  • Average Class Size: Small
  • Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Department of Rehabilitation, Workforce Innovation, and Opportunity Act
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 1 instructor to 12 students 

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By United Truck Driving School

United Truck Driving School is a well-reputed trucking school that offers short-term training to enrolled students. The institute provides comprehensive knowledge and prepares students with the skills required to qualify for entry-level job positions in the trucking industry. Once you have completed your training program, you can get employed as a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver.

The institute offers a Truck Driving Program that consists of four weeks of training. It includes field as well as classroom training for 160 hours. The program consists of DOT Safety and Regulations, State Regulations, and aptitude development in skills to get a CDL. 

Classroom training is 40 hours long, and you will learn DOT, logbooks, and job search techniques. Meanwhile, the 120-hour field training equips you with the driving skills needed behind the wheel.

Program Details

Unlike other trucking schools, United Truck Driving School provides students with many opportunities to pursue a great trucking career. The institution promises career counseling, job placement assistance, and other linked services to enrolled students. The faculty works closely with its students during their classroom training to educate them about interview techniques and job-seeking tools.

The school also requests trucking companies to visit the institute and talk with students about job placement, requirements for employment, and job availability. The students are also promised proper classrooms for theoretical lessons, a yard for hands-on experience, and a break room. You can also benefit from the resource library and useful equipment provided during the operating hours.

Best CDL Trucking School in Fontana, CA:
Roadmaster Drivers School

Trucking School Details

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Roadmaster Drivers School

For over 28 years, Roadmaster Drivers School has been training students from all over the country for entry-level commercial driver positions. The institute provides a chance for those students who want to excel as a professional truck driver. Here, a qualified team of CDL instructors, well-planned training programs, and real-life training ensure you get your dream job.

Roadmaster Drivers School currently offers a Class A CDL training program. It is a 160-hour training program that includes both in-class and in-vehicle training. You get to learn not only trucking knowledge but also the essential skills required to drive safely on the road.

Program Details

Class A CDL Training programs at Roadmaster Drivers School are quite comprehensive in all regards. A team of Roadmaster instructors delivers safety-focused CDL training that prepares you as an entry-level truck driver. The school promises large classrooms and computer labs that are designed specifically for truck-driving courses.

Besides, the trucking school promises job placement assistance to its students. The instructors work closely with each student and help them find work even before they are done with their training. Recruiters from different trucking companies visit Roadmaster Drivers School to hire competent individuals and offer you a chance of employment.

Best CDL Trucking School in Bakersfield, CA:
Advanced Career Institute

Trucking School Details

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Advanced Career Institute

Advanced Career Institute offers a wide range of training programs for its students. It offers basic Class A CDL training along with the more advanced Ag Transportation training. These training programs are designed for individuals who have little to no prior working experience in the trucking industry. The school not only offers a perfect learning experience but also helps students develop excellent driving skills.

Class A CDL training requires four weeks or 160 hours of training before completion. Meanwhile, Ag Transportation training takes about six weeks or 240 hours of training. You can also obtain endorsements like Air Brakes, Combination Vehicle, Double/Triples, Tankers, and Hazardous Materials.

Program Details

Training programs at Advanced Career Institute are made to help you obtain your Class A CDL. You will be prepared for the DMV written CDL exam as classroom training. The program will also teach you pre-trip inspection techniques, vehicle maintenance, and several other driving skills obligatory by DMV.

As a prestigious trucking school in California, Advanced Career Institute also provides job placement assistance to graduates. Even after graduation, the institute delivers ongoing assistance until you can secure a job in the trucking industry. The school also hosts recruiter presentations with local, regional, and national transportation companies that offer graduates many employment opportunities.

Trucking School Details

  • Locations: Los Angeles - 415 West 130th St, Los Angeles, CA 90061
    Fontana- 14392 Valley Blvd, Fontana, CA 92335
    Barstow- 2161 West Main St, Barstow 92311
    Orange County- 921 N Poinsettia St, Santa Ana 92701 (Main Office)
  • Website: https://www.ctdanow.com/training-programs/

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By California Truck Driving Academy

California Truck Driving Academy provides a variety of professional truck driver training programs. These programs are specifically designed to prepare you for local driving, over-the-road, and bus driving employment opportunities. The institute offers training programs, such as Class A/B, Class A, Class B, Class B Bus/Passenger, and Class C Truck Driver.

Moreover, you can get enrolled in Class A or Class B Truck Refresher along with some Veteran Training Programs. The length of these training programs is different for each course. Class A/B Truck Driver is a six-week training program that includes 180 hours of training. Class A has a five-week duration with 160 hours of training, while Class B Truck Driver is a three-week program of 60 hours. Similarly, Class B Passenger Bus Driver requires three weeks of training, while Class A Refresher and Class B Refresher are of one week each.

Program Details

Top-rated trucking schools offer job placement assistance for their students, and the same is the case for California Truck Driving Academy. The school promises lifelong job placement assistance for graduates or until you secure a job. During your time here, you will see frequent recruitment visits at the institute from some of the best trucking companies in the industry.

Top management and instructors are quite cooperative and guide students to avail themselves of employment opportunities. The school is in close contact with recruiters from regional, local, and long-haul companies like Swift, Covenant, Werner Enterprises, and several others. These companies promise you not only attractive salary packages and incentives but also a bright future.

Trucking School Details

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Los Angeles Trucking College

Los Angeles Trucking College is a prestigious trucking school that offers high-quality training to its students in a short time. Their short-duration truck driving programs are designed to teach students the knowledge and skill to pass the CDL examination. The institute's primary focus is to offer effective truck-driving training to ensure students get employed and drive safely.

Currently, Los Angeles Trucking College offers two CDL training programs, Class A and Class B CDL training. The length of these training programs is of several weeks and comprises a 160-hour training session. As a student, you will be provided in class as well as behind-the-wheel training for a hands-on experience.

Program Details

At Los Angeles Trucking College, a team of dedicated and qualified CDL instructors provides adequate training to students. There are dedicated classrooms and labs where students can learn the basics and the latest developments in the trucking industry. The school also allows you to get acquainted with professional tools and equipment used in the trucking business.

Although there is no dedicated job placement assistance for students, the school provides guidance related to job opportunities. Once you have completed the training program, career counselors and instructors help you find a job as an entry-level truck driver.

Trucking School Details

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By A 1 Truck Driving School

A 1 Truck Driving School promises a quick and effective way to obtain your CDL. It offers several well-planned training programs for truck drivers that equip you with everything you need to get employed. The institute is known for its Professional Truck and Bus Driving Training programs that are designed for inexperienced drivers.

There’s also a Class A Commercial Driver’s License Program, which is a comprehensive training course that allows you to acquire a Class A CDL. The 160-hour training program offers a flexible class schedule that provides you with both theoretical and practical truck-driving knowledge.

Program Details

During the training program, you are taught professional driving skills and knowledge regarding truck driving. A 1 Truck Driving School stays in touch with every student during the training for thorough guidance. You are provided with trucking knowledge as well as equipment and tools that you will utilize during your employment.

After the completion of the training program, the school makes efforts to introduce graduates to recruitment firms for entry-level employment. The institute works closely with some local and interstate trucking companies to help you with career services.

Trucking School Details

Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Truck Driving Academy

Truck Driving Academy is one of the highest-rated trucking schools in California. Their reputation comes from their all-inclusive training programs that focus on driver education and safety. The institute ensures that students learn through classroom training, road training, and are familiar with the tools required for vehicle maintenance.

Class A CDL training program is presently offered by Truck Driving Academy that allows you to select training hours as per your convenience. However, the length of the program remains the same at 160 hours, including in-class and in-vehicle training. The program's purpose is to prepare you for the CDL exam and help you become a professional truck driver. You can also get an H, N, T, and K endorsement while pursuing your training.

Program Details

At Truck Driving Academy, you are also promised truck driver placement services for commercial driver placement. The school has employment partnerships with several renowned trucking companies that include small and local companies. As a student, you can also specify the sort of job you seek after the training program is complete.

Students can select the job opportunities they prefer. These include long-distance, local, specialized, hazardous materials, owner-operator, or independent truck driving jobs. Apart from that, you are also familiarized with the basic and advanced tools that you’d require in dedicated classrooms and labs.

Why Start a Trucking Career in California?

Starting a trucking career in California is a great option for ambitious individuals who’d like to work as truck drivers. California is considered among some of the most highly-paying states for truck drivers. Plus, with so many businesses operating in this region, you can expect increased demand and pay scales for truck drivers.

The following are some factors that make California an ideal place to start a trucking career.

Employment Opportunities

There is no doubt that California offers some great job opportunities for professional truck drivers. With so many trucking businesses operating in the region, the need for truck drivers has grown quite rapidly. Since truck drivers are the backbone of the trucking industry, you can expect your driving skills to be valued in the state.

Attractive Pay Scales

With the increasing demand for specialized truck drivers, trucking companies try to hire experienced drivers. These companies offer handsome salary packages along with various incentives to retain their employees. As a truck driver, you are not only an asset to the company but are also fully compensated for your services.

Reputable Trucking Schools

California has some of the best trucking schools in the country that teach you to become a responsible driver. These schools prepare you to survive and excel in the trucking industry by imparting trucking knowledge and skills. Becoming a part of a prestigious trucking school can ensure a great trucking career.

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Truck Driving Salary and Job Outlook in California

Truck-driving is one of the most in-demand professions in the United States. The advent of modern technology and the use of sophisticated machinery in the trucking industry calls for competent truck drivers. New businesses are being established throughout the country, and there is a need for reliable trucking services.

According to an estimate, job opportunities for truck drivers in California are going to rise by almost 21% in the next few years. This is great news for anyone who’d like to pursue a trucking career. Salary packages also seem to be quite attractive with the continuous increase in the demand for truck drivers. To put it in perspective, the average salary for a truck driver in California is a whopping $67,713 per year.

Based on the level of expertise, here are some statistics for different salary packages offered to truck drivers in California.

Entry-Level

Entry-level truck drivers can make some good money in California. Even with less than one year of working experience, you can earn as much as $63,580 per year.

Mid-Level

Truck drivers with more than five years of driving experience are highly paid in the trucking industry.

Their average annual income can be as high as $72,296.

Master-Level

Photo credit: a-1truckschool.com

As for the master-level, these truck drivers are among the highest-paid. Truck drivers with more than ten years of experience can easily earn up to $76,458 per year.

Conclusion

The trucking school you choose to attend can have a huge impact on your future career. While there are various trucking schools to choose from, not all of them can be considered equal. Getting your certification from a reputable trucking school can make it easy for you to get employed. Therefore, we have listed some of the best trucking schools that you can opt for a great trucking career. Make sure to pick wisely!

Recap - Best CDL Trucking Schools in California

Before you leave, here's a refresher on the best CDL trucking schools in California:

  1.  United Truck Driving School
  2.  Roadmaster Drivers School
  3.  Advanced Career Institute

People Also Ask

There might still be some questions related to truck driving schools left unanswered. These questions can be related to obtaining a CDL or any financial assistance that people can expect from trucking schools. To make this article more helpful, we have listed commonly asked questions with their answers.

Do Trucking Companies in California Pay You to Get Your CDL?

In California, several trucking companies pay you to get your CDL. This option is usually for new, inexperienced drivers who have just stepped into the trucking industry. Companies like Swift Transportation and Werner Enterprises not only bear your training costs but also ensure you get your CDL.

Can You Get Financial Aid for Trucking School in California?

Some of the top-rated trucking schools in California offer financial aid if you qualify for it. The financial assistance comprises tuition reimbursement, partial scholarships, or discounts for needy students. Examples of such trucking schools include California Truck Driver Academy and Los Angeles Trucking College.

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When Does Your CDL Expire in California?

Every state has its own rules and regulations regarding the validity of your CDL. In California, the validation period of your CDL is up to five years. Your CDL expires on your birthday in the fifth year of your validation period.

How Many CDL Tests Are There in California?

Three CDL tests are conducted as per state laws in California. To get your CDL, you must pass a three-part exam that consists of a pre-trip inspection test, a basic control skills test, and a driving test. Be mindful that the requirements for your CDL test may vary depending upon the type of CDL you applied for.

How Long Does it Take to Get a CDL in California?

You can only obtain a valid CDL in California if you have attended and completed a full-time driver training program. Some trucking schools might offer you a CDL as early as five weeks. However, it takes about seven weeks on average to get your CDL.

How Early Can I Renew My California CDL?

California DMV sends you a renewal notice two months before the expiration of your CDL. The notice includes various renewal options that you can opt for the re-validation. You can also renew your CDL six months before the expiration date.



After spending years on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the hardships that came with the trucking industry. I realized there was an opportunity to lend a hand a create a resource for truckers by truckers. With the help of my tech-savvy son, I built Trucker Geek as a way to show people that becoming a driver doesn’t need to be a stressful headache.