California CDL License Requirements

To start a career in truck driving in California, you may first require a commercial driver's license (CDL). The State of California uses the following criteria to determine whether or not a CDL is required to drive a commercial vehicle.

  • Class A: Vehicle with combined weight over 26,001 pounds, towing a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds
  • Class B: Vehicle weighing more than 26,001 pounds, towing a vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds
  • Class C: Vehicle used for transporting 16 or more passengers (including driver) or to transport hazardous materials

According to California CDL requirements, applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid California driver's license, pass a vision exam and obtain a medical certificate. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulates interstate transportation of cargo. If you wish to transport materials across state lines, you must be at least 21 years old. All CDL applicants then need to pass a general knowledge exam and a skills test, which includes a pre-trip vehicle inspection, a basic control test and an on-road driving exam. The State of California requires that you test in a vehicle that matches the class of CDL you are trying to obtain--for example, you must test in a Class A vehicle if you wish to obtain a Class A CDL.

Additional knowledge and skills tests may be required depending on the endorsements you need. Endorsements may be needed to drive a truck with air brakes, a tanker or a school bus. They may also be needed to transport passengers or to haul hazardous materials. To transport hazardous materials (also referred to as a Hazmat endorsement), a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check may be required. A truck driving school may provide the education and on-road training needed to pass the CDL requirements in California.

Resources for California CDL Requirements

Learn more about California trucking schools.

Truck Driver Salary in California

Location 25th Percentile 75th Percentile Annual Salary
United States $31,270 $48,330 $38,700
California $33,190 $50,780 $40,460
Bakersfield-Delano, CA $33,540 $47,530 $38,970
Chico, CA $34,080 $48,100 $41,240
El Centro, CA $24,520 $34,630 $28,400
Fresno, CA $31,290 $43,670 $35,910
Hanford-Corcoran, CA $26,640 $41,420 $32,100
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division $32,820 $50,400 $40,660
Madera-Chowchilla, CA $33,280 $49,590 $41,090
Merced, CA $28,270 $68,920 $34,810
Modesto, CA $32,040 $48,370 $38,060
Napa, CA $36,680 $51,950 $42,960
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division $35,310 $56,210 $43,520
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA $34,900 $54,030 $44,480
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA $34,710 $55,010 $41,720
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA $31,570 $48,580 $38,350
Salinas, CA $30,490 $46,960 $39,140
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA $31,970 $49,710 $40,040
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division $35,050 $56,230 $46,130
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $33,960 $56,980 $45,200
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA $36,420 $46,550 $42,090
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division $33,070 $48,660 $39,580
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA $34,070 $48,280 $41,140
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $37,200 $48,900 $42,800
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA $39,790 $55,190 $46,740
Stockton, CA $34,490 $47,030 $41,370
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $35,510 $48,630 $42,510
Visalia-Porterville, CA $23,560 $45,090 $34,410
Yuba City, CA $29,780 $45,200 $37,740

Table data taken from 2015 BLS (