The transportation industry has thousands of jobs in California for commercial drivers. Operators of large commercial vehicles like trucks and passenger buses must obtain a California commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Applicants seeking a CDL license must first pass a written knowledge test. After passing that test, an applicant must then train for a skills test. Drivers have a number of options for training, such as truck driving schools. After training, a driver should complete and pass the skills test to obtain a California CDL license.
Access the “California Commercial Driver License Handbook” at Dmv.ca.gov/pubs/cdl_htm/toc.htm. This California CDL manual is just like the manual you use for a standard driver’s license except that it has information specific to the operation of a commercial vehicle.
Study the parts of the California CDL handbook that apply to your situation. The way a CDL license works is that there are standard questions for all test takers plus separate questions for endorsements like HAZMAT, passenger vehicles and air brakes. If you are trying to obtain any of these CDL endorsements, then you need to study those additional portions of the manual.
Take the CDL written exam. When you pass this portion of the exam, you may receive a California CDL permit. You can then use this permit for hands-on training on commercial vehicles.
Find a truck driving school or other applicable CDL training resource. You can find many ways to train for a commercial driver’s license. For example, the Professional Truck Driver Institute works to certify programs that train drivers for the CDL skills and driving test. You may find a list of these certified programs by using the map on the PTDI website at Ptdi.org/schools/schools.aspx. Although there are no California truck driving schools on this particular list, there are a couple of schools in Phoenix. If you need to attend a CDL school in California, at least use the PTDI’s school checklist at Ptdi.org/errata/Checklist.pdf before paying tuition to attend a California truck driver school.
In the case of bus driving, contact your California school system for training opportunities or private passenger companies like Greyhound for company-sponsored CDL training opportunities.
Complete your CDL training before scheduling a skills test at your local California DMV. Make sure you are fully familiar with the CDL manual and the commercial vehicle you will be testing on for the CDL skills test.
Schedule your CDL driving/skills test by calling 800-777-0133 (between 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon Pacific time). You will need to have your own vehicle for testing. Generally, you can obtain use of a commercial vehicle from your training program. In some areas, rental companies exist for renting out a truck or other commercial vehicle specifically for testing purposes. In the case of school bus drivers, contact the local school district for the testing process.
Complete your CDL skills test. You can then receive a California CDL license from the local DMV.
PTDI CDL Schools for Truck Drivers
California CDL Manual