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Best CDL Training in California

If you are looking for an exciting career with good pay and benefits, perhaps you should consider becoming a CDL truck driver. The trucking and transportation industry continues to grow at a fast pace, giving truckers plenty of job opportunities. Best of all, it only takes a few weeks of your time to invest in CDL training in California. If the thought of being stuck behind a desk all day makes you cringe, a career in the trucking industry may be for you. 

Quicklook: Best CDL Training in California

  • Center for Employment Training
  • Truck Nation School
  • Western Truck School
  • California Truck Driving Academy
  • Dolphin Trucking School

5 CDL Training Programs in California

There are an estimated 130 CDL training programs in California. You can find training courses throughout the state at such schools as;

Center for Employment Training

The Center for Employment Training (CET) offers a Truck Driver I accelerated course that takes 10 weeks to complete. With 300 hours of classroom and hands-on training that is offered in the evenings, students who complete the program are equipped to take the CDL exam. Training is available at their Soledad and El Centro schools. 

For students seeking more in-depth training in yard skills, inspections, and hands-on driving, CET offers a Truck Driver program that takes an estimated 630 hours to complete. This course is available at the El Centro and Soledad campuses. 


  • Truck Driver I Program: $5,875
  • Expanded Truck Driver Program: $12,333 and includes books, tools, uniforms, and supplies. 

Program Length: 300 hours over 10 weeks. Full-time enrollment during a 6 to 7 month curriculum of  630-hours.

Financial Assistance: Students may be eligible for grants or student loans. Contact a Financial Aid Officer at CET to find out if you qualify for financial assistance. 

Tuition Reimbursement: Students that have secured a job may be able to get partial or full tuition reimbursement from their future employer.  

Class Size: 20 – 25 students

Job Placement: CET offers job placement services. 

Online Course: In-person only

CDL Licenses: Class A  

Truck Nation School

With two locations, students who attend a Truck Nation School receive a combination of skills and classroom training. The school offers four programs that can be completed between 48 hours and 350 hours. They offer private one-on-one training and have flexible hours throughout the week. 

Cost: Truck Nation offers four programs:

  • Basic: $2,000
  • Advanced: $2,500
  • Pro: $3,000
  • Expert: $4,000

Students that make a one-time payment of their tuition in full receive a $250 discount. 

Program Length: Students enrolled in any one of the four programs offered by the school can take classes during the day, evening, or on the weekends. 

  • Basic: 48 hours
  • Advanced: 80 hours
  • Pro: 160 hours
  • Expert: 350 hours

Financial Assistance: For a minimum $500 down payment, students can set up a payment plan through the school. 

Tuition Reimbursement: If you have secured a job with a trucking company, your new employer may be willing to reimburse you for part or all of your tuition. 

Class Size: Not disclosed

Job Placement: Truck Nation offers job placement assistance to students with the Pro or Expert Program. 

Online Course: In-person only

CDL Licenses: Class A 

Western Truck School

Western Truck School offers a variety of programs to students seeking their CDL. Their Class A Commercial Driver Program combines hands-on training with classroom instruction. They offer specialized programs for students seeking additional training in such areas as safety rules, mountain driving, and forklift operation. 

Cost: Contact the school for program costs. 

Program Length: 

  • Class A Truck Driver: 160 hours 
  • Class A/B Truck Driver: 180 hours
  • Class B Truck Driver: 60 hours
  • Class B Passenger/bus Driver: 3-week course
  • Class B/P Passenger/bus Driver: 60 hours
  • Class C Truck Driver: 1 day

Financial Assistance: No financial aid services. However, students should consult an admissions representative to find out if they qualify for grants, private loans or payment plans. 

Tuition Reimbursement: Western Truck School does not have company-sponsored training available. If you secure a job with a trucking company, they may offer tuition reimbursement. 

Class Size: Not disclosed

Job Placement: Western Truck School offers job placement services before and after you complete their training course. 

Online Course: In-person only

CDL Licenses: 

  • Class A
  • Class B 

California Truck Driving Academy

The California Truck Driving Academy trains students to become commercial truck drivers. The Academy offers a range of classes and boasts an 80% pass rate. The program is a mix of hands-on training and classroom instruction.  

Cost: Contact the school for program costs. 

Program Length: 

  • Class A Commercial Driver: 160 hours in 4 to 8 weeks.
  • Class A Commercial Driver Extended: additional 20 hours to base CDL program.
  • Class A Advance Commercial: 330 hours . Students must attend day classes on a Full-time enrollment and 330 required hours for 8 weeks.
  • Class B Commercial Driver: 40 hours one-on-one instruction.
  • Class P Passenger Commercial Driver: 40 hours one-on-one instruction.
  • Class A/P Combined Commercial Driver: 180 hours in 4 ½ to 8 ½ weeks. 
  • Class B/P Combined Commercial Driver: 80 hours in 1 to 4 weeks.

Financial Assistance: Students may be eligible for tuition assistance with Vocational Rehabilitation Assistance, Department of Rehabilitation or the Employment Development Department. 

Qualified students may be eligible for a partial scholarship or a payment plan. 

Tuition Reimbursement: Your future employer may offer tuition reimbursement. 

Class Size: Not disclosed

Job Placement: Lifetime job placement assistance is available. 

Online Course: In-person

CDL Licenses: 

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Passenger Licenses

Dolphin Trucking School

Dolphin Trucking School prepares students for a career in the commercial trucking industry. The program includes classroom lectures, written materials, and hands-on experience operating a tractor-trailer or bus. 

Cost: Tuition costs vary based on the program and may include relevant CDL application and testing fees.

  • Class A: $4,827
  • Class A w/ Passenger Endorsement: $6,480
  • Class B: $3,584
  • Commercial Driver Advanced Course: $3,150

Program Length: Dolphin offers multiple training programs.

  • Class A: 168 hours
  • Class A w/ Passenger Endorsement: 240 hours
  • Class B w/ Passenger Endorsement: 120 hours
  • Commercial Driver’s License Advanced Course: 80 hours

Financial Assistance: Students who are unemployed or have been laid off may be eligible for grants or other funding. The school offers scholarships to students who qualify, as well as payment plans. 

Tuition Reimbursement: Tuition reimbursement may be available through your future employer.  

Class Size: The school offers individual and group training. 

Job Placement: Lifetime job placement assistance is available to help students get interviews with local and national trucking companies. 

Online Course: In-person only 

CDL Licenses: 

  • Class A
  • Class B

How Does CDL Training in California Work?

The State of California requires a specialized license to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Vehicles are considered to be CMVs if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • A single vehicle or combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. 
  • A 3-axle vehicle that weighs more than 6,000 pounds
  • A vehicle that transports hazardous materials which require placards. 
  • A vehicle designed to carry more than 10 passengers, including the driver

A specialized commercial driving license (CDL) required is based on the weight of the vehicle.  However, the type of license varies depending on the vehicle’s weight and its purpose. 

  • Commercial Class A – This specialized license is required when operating a commercial vehicle (or multiple vehicles) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, with the vehicle being towed having a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more. 
  • Commercial Class B – This license is required when operating a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or more. The vehicle being towed cannot have a weight of more than 10,000 GVWR. For towed vehicles with three axles, a Commercial B license is necessary if it weighs over 6,000 pounds.  
  • Commercial Class C – Vehicles that meet a Class C definition and have one or more of the following endorsements:
    • Passenger Vehicle (PV)
    • Tank Vehicle (TV)
    • Hazardous Materials (HazMat)

In California, you may only have one type of CDL. So, if you have a Class A license, you are authorized to operate vehicles with a Class B or Class C rating. Should you have a Class B license, you may also operate a Class C vehicle.  Those with Class C licenses may only operate vehicles that meet this criteria. 

To obtain a CDL in California, you must 

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • If you are driving over state lines or transporting hazardous materials, you must be at least 21 years old. 
  • Have a valid California driver’s license that allows the applicant to operate a non-commercial Class C vehicle. 
  • Apply for and receive a temporary Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). A CLP is valid for 180 days and may be renewed for a period that does not exceed one year from the initial application date. 
  • After passing the knowledge test and waiting 14 days after the CLP has been issued, students may take the skills test.  The skills test includes;
    • Vehicle inspection
    • Basic control skills
    • Road test
  • Submit all required paperwork and requested documents.
  • Pay your license fee

California Trucking School Facts & Figures

California offers a variety of CDL training programs throughout the state. In addition to training, many schools offer tuition assistance and job placement services to help their graduates find jobs.  

Number of Schools

California has an estimated 130 CDL training programs throughout the state. You can find CDL training programs at trade schools, private teaching facilities, and colleges throughout California. 

Number of Students per Class

The average class size is 27 students, however, many schools offer one-on-one training or smaller group settings. 

Tuition Rates

Tuition rates vary based on the program selected and available financial assistance. The average tuition paid by students for CDL training in California is $2,561. 

Average Loan Amount

Students who do not qualify for grants may be eligible to finance their tuition costs. The average loan for a student attending a CDL training program in California is $5,254.


Schools that offer scholarship programs award an average of $1,897 to students enrolled in CDL training programs.  

Job Placement

Most CDL training schools offer job placement assistance to their students. Not only is this service available to current students, many schools offer lifetime assistance to graduates of their programs.  

California Trucking Employment Facts & Figures

There are plenty of career opportunities for a CDL truck driver in California. The state has the second highest employment for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers in the nation.  The average salary for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in California is approximately 5% higher than the national average.


You’ll find over 14,000 CDL truck driving jobs based in California. These positions range from local delivery routes, multi-state transport, and bus drivers. 

Biggest EmployerAverage SalaryCompany Size
Swift Transportation$43,72610,000+
Werner Enterprises$58,91710,000 +
CRST $299 per day5,001 – 10,000
Schneider National$44,83710,000 +
Covenant Transport$1,226 per week1001 – 5000


The average salary for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in California is;

Weekly: $988

Monthly: $4,283

Yearly: $51,400

Enroll in a California  CDL Training Program Today!

The trucking and transportation industry continues to grow at a fast pace. CDL drivers in California are in high demand. By investing a few weeks of your time, you may be able to land a stable job with good pay and benefits. Whether you have already decided to start down a new path or are on the fence about your next career move, you can learn more about the latest news and trends in the trucking and transportation industry when you subscribe to the Freightwaves e-newsletter.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does CDL training cost in California?

The cost of CDL training in California varies based on the school and program selected. Tuition typically ranges from $3,500 to $6,500. Students eligible for grants and other assistance may pay less.

How many questions are on the CDL permit test in California?

There are 50 questions on the written CDL test.

How long is CDL school in California?

Depending on school, students may complete a CDL training program in California in as little as two to four weeks. Part-time and weekend students may need a few months to complete their CDL training.

Where the best truck drivers go to find jobs nationwide!

Where the best truck drivers go to find jobs nationwide!