The state of California is working to enact stricter safety laws and requirements for commercial vehicle drivers. Professional training found at an accredited California CDL school is the best way to stay ahead of changing state laws and receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The CA CDL test is purposefully challenging in order to set high standards for commercial truck drivers. It takes the right amount of knowledge, preparation and practice to pass. Training is a great way to learn everything necessary to get the license and pass the test.

Training is something to consider if your goal is to get your CDL and find employment. Most truck driving schools in California offer job placement and truck driving company recruiters use schools to find potential employees. Ultimately, the right training can give you a head start on your future career. Learn more about CA CDL school to find out if it’s the right option for you.

What is CDL training in California?

Students who attend CDL school in California will benefit from professional training and guidance when getting a CDL license. Preparation is essential to help prepare for the state knowledge test and road exam.

Most schools offer at least two program options, Class A CDL training and Class B CDL training. Class is determined by the vehicle’s weight. For example, a Class A license is for vehicles over 26,001 pounds or vehicles that will tow vehicles over 10,000 pounds.

Students should also consider what license endorsements they wish to earn and ensure that they meet basic CDL requirements in California. For instance, an S endorsement can be added for school bus drivers.

The federal government requires that drivers pass a physical examination and have a certificate of good health. They also need a good driving record and to meet age and residency requirements.

Is CDL school required in California?

California legislators recently passed a bill to up the requirements for entry-level truck drivers. Drivers must spend at least 15 hours in CDL training behind the wheel to qualify for a license.

These state standards are more specific than the federal requirements from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Applicants will need a Certificate of Driving Skill, DL 170 ETP, to qualify. This can be filled out by your employer only if they are authorized by the DMV to do so.

At a California CDL school, students benefit from receiving this training and form when they show their driving proficiency. Regardless of whether a driver takes CA CDL training or not, they still must complete a course of instruction prior to taking the tests.

Curriculum of California CDL Classes

CDL training includes both in-classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel instruction. Both are important facets to help drivers learn how to operate commercial vehicles.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to commercial vehicles. From shifting gears to air brakes, it’s very different than operating a normal car.

In-Class Instruction for the CDL Written Test

In many ways, California truck driving schools offer a departure from traditional education routes because it’s hands-on and active, but classroom time is still essential. The CA CDL knowledge test covers all of the road laws, signs and more. In the classroom, students learn all the material that will tested in the California written exam.

The knowledge test must be passed in order for students to receive their CDL learner permit and move behind-the-wheel to gain driving experience.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction for the CDL Driving Test

It takes time and practice to learn how to drive a commercial vehicle. At CA CDL schools, you will be able to practice driving under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable instructor once you have your learner’s permit.

This one-on-one guidance is crucial to correct mistakes, fine-tune your vehicle handling ability and more. You will be able to run through the pre-inspection test and road California road skills test multiple times to build your confidence and skill before you take the actual thing.

Expect to practice with the vehicle stopped and in motion, on busy motorways and in urban areas so that you are prepared for whatever conditions come your way.

How long is CDL training in California?

You can expect CA CDL training to last about three to six weeks from start to finish. Some schools offer daytime and nighttime class options to work with your schedule. Check class schedules ahead of time if flexibility is a deciding factor for you.

Best CDL Schools Near Me in California

You might have spent some time searching for the “best trucking schools near me” but still have trouble deciding or this might be your first time looking for a California CDL school. Either way, this list will help you find some of the best options in the state like:

  • A-1 Truck Driving School Inc.: This school in Hayward, CA offers a two and three-week CDL class for Class A or B. There’s a more than 90 percent graduation rate and instructors are available seven days a week to fit your schedule.
  • California Truck Driving Academy: If you’re looking for a highly-rated and reviewed school, this is a great option. This privately-owned school also offers lifelong job placement assistance to help you find CDL jobs. Recruiters from Swift, Covenant and Werner Enterprises all use this Santa Ana school to find employees.
  • Commercial Drivers Learning Center: This school has been family-operated for over 25 years. Plus, it offers a variety of financial options for students. Commercial Drivers Learning Center is VA approved for students with the GI Bill and also accepts WIA grant funds, rehabilitation funds and worker’s compensation. Plus, it offers trucking reimbursement plans that are offered by many long-haul trucking companies.
  • California Truck Driving School: Just like A-1 Truck Driving School, this school has a location in Hayward. They offer a 140-hour, four-week curriculum and refresher courses for drivers ready to brush up on their skills.
  • Roadmaster Drivers School: This CDL school has locations throughout the U.S. and a glowing reputation for preparing students for promising truck driving careers. Just three to four weeks is all it takes to learn automatic shifting, map reading, backing, turning, advanced truck driving techniques, emergency actions and more.
  • United Truck Driving School: If you live in San Diego, this might be the “CDL school near me” that you’re looking for. Because of its location, you can expect to learn how to drive in a variety of settings, from urban downtown to rural motorways. Plus, United helps students with tuition reimbursement to cut costs. You will have loan options as well as employment opportunities to cover the tuition.
  • American Truck Driving School: Located in Riverside, CA, this privately-owned school is family owned and operated. They offer both Class A and B classes along with all the endorsements you could possibly need.

Benefits of Completing California Truck Driving School

CA CDL school offers many benefits. From step-by-step guidance through the CDL process to detailed CDL test prep, you’ll enjoy learning from experienced instructors.

Pick a school that offers job placement so you have assistance in finding the best CDL jobs in California. As a student, you are able to utilize the school resources to connect with truck driving companies that provide gainful employment. You’ll also enjoy using the school’s other resources like the ability to borrow a commercial vehicle to take your CDL test in.

CDL Training Costs in California

Most California truck driving schools cost somewhere from $4,000 to $6,000. However, there are financing options available. In fact, at most schools, free CDL training is available to students who qualify for scholarships or private programs. Most truck driving companies also offer company paid CDL training to cover program costs.

How to Self-Prep for California CDL Exams

Because the state requires training in order to qualify for a CDL, you will need to undergo some instruction but whether you choose to attend a California CDL school or not, CDL prep is vital to pass the exam.

The CA CDL handbook contains all of the information you will find on the state written knowledge test but it’s always helpful to take a free California CDL practice test before you arrive. Practice and preparation are essential. Beyond the written test, you’ll need to spend time prepping for the road skills portion of the test, so you feel comfortable behind the wheel.

Last updated on Thursday, February 27 2020.