Truck driving is one of the most popular careers that will also provide workers with a decent salary. The age range for drivers is vast, and in California, you will find more than 130 thousand people employed in the truck driving field, second only to Texas.
You may be wondering how much you can make in California as a truck driver. The easy answer is that it varies. However, in California, the average yearly wage for a truck driver is $63,446. In this state, popular job site Glassdoor says it has received more than 1700 anonymous salary reports from truck drivers.
Table of Contents
- How much does a Class A CDL truck driver make in California?
- How are truck drivers paid?
- How much do larger corporations pay their drivers?
- What are California’s truck driver requirements?
- What are the basic criteria for becoming a truck driver in California?
- What are the preliminary exams for truck driving?
- What are some factors affecting the earnings of company drivers?
- Can you be your own boss driving as an independent contractor?
- What state association represents truck drivers?
- Is truck driving in California worthwhile?
How much does a Class A CDL truck driver make in California?
There is a wide range of CDL Class A Truck Driver salaries in California, with a median salary of $61,715 as of October 2021. Salary ranges vary greatly depending on location and several other critical elements, such as academic achievement, accreditations, acquired training, and the length of time a driver has worked in the field.
Several other variables can affect how much money you end up making as a truck driver, but the chance to earn competitive compensation packages is indisputable.
The median annual salary for truck drivers in 2014 was $39,520, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10% of truck drivers earned $25,740, while the top 10% earned $61,150 on average.
Truck drivers, on the other hand, don’t typically receive an annual salary or hourly wage like many other professions do. Most companies pay their drivers on a cents-per-mile basis.
Average truck driver pay-per-mile ranges from 28 to 40 cents, and the drivers typically clock in between two thousand and three thousand miles a week.
It equates to a weekly salary of $560–1,200 on average. You could make between $29,100–62,500 dollars a year driving at those rates every week for a whole year.
Driver compensation at most corporations is above the industry average and varies depending on the type of truck you drive and the type of driver you become.
Company solo drivers, company team drivers, and independent contractors all have different pay scales. Tanker trucks, flatbeds, and refrigerated trucks (also called reefers) are all examples of driving categories that can affect pay.
Drivers for solo refrigeration companies can expect to make between 44 cents and 49 cents per mile. A weekly salary of just over $1,100–1,316 is typical for a company refrigerated truck driver who typically drives between 24 hundred and 28 hundred miles.
Total earnings would range from $58,656–68,432 if they decided to drive the very same number of miles each week for the whole calendar year. For each mile driven, flatbed solo corporation drivers make 46 cents.
Flatbed truck drivers typically clock in between 2,200 and 2,600 miles per week and make between $968–1,144 weekly. Earnings could range from $50,336–59,488 in a year. Drivers employed by a single tanker company make 51 cents per mile.
For 52 weeks, the driver would earn between $882 and $1,078 per week and $45,864 to $56,056 per year if they drove 1,800 to 2,200 miles per week. In addition, many corporations offer a variety of incentives for company drivers to help them increase their earnings. They include:
- Earn up to 8.2 cents extra per mile if your gas mileage is higher than 7.75 miles per gallon (mpg)
- Graduates of the CDL School may have eligibility for a tuition reimbursement
- Earn money by referring new drivers through the company’s driver referral program
- Make extra money by becoming a CDL instructor or trainer.
- Team driving with a spouse, partner, or friend can also be an option. The type of truck driven determines how much a prime team driver is paid per mile:
Refrigerated team drivers: 52 cents per mile divided among the drivers
- 50 cents per mile split for flatbed team drivers
- Drivers of tanker teams earn 53 cents per mile.
- Over 3,000 miles per week, drivers on the team can earn an additional 22 cents per mile.
When it comes to the trucking industry, besides having a driver’s license, it’s critical to ensure that every truck driver has received the proper education and training before they are given the keys to their vehicle.
As a result, all truck drivers in the United States, particularly those in California, must meet a number of prerequisites before they can hit the road. A few of the requirements are outlined below.
It is necessary that you have the following credentials before you can begin the process of getting your CDL in California:
- Be in possession of a high school diploma or a general education development certificate
- Maintain a clean driving history
- Possess a valid Class D driver’s license that has been held for at least one year
- To drive within the state, you must be at least 18 years old; to cross state lines, you must be at least 21 years old
- Prove your California residency by showing identification with a current California address
- Have a social security number
- Proof of insurance
- The applicant must pass a 10-year criminal history check
- Clear the TSA inspection
- Complete a medical exam
- Pass drug tests performed on a regular basis
Both a knowledge test and a skills test must be passed before you can get your commercial driver’s license. In the knowledge test, you’ll be asked to demonstrate that you understand the specific traffic and safety regulations that apply to the vehicle class you’re driving.
There are three skills tests for students to prepare for: one on vehicle inspection, another on vehicle control and operation, and finally, one on driving.
Before obtaining your CDL and beginning your truck driving career in California, you should become well-versed in many aspects of road and truck safety.
At most truck driving schools, they will assist you in gaining an understanding of these requirements and tests, as well as putting together a game plan to succeed.
Only when the truck is moving forward, do drivers who are paid by the mile earn money. You don’t get paid for the following things that eat up your time on the road:
- Awaiting at border crossings or customs facilities
- Getting stuck in traffic
- Calculating the mass and volume of a load
- Performing a trailer and truck circle check
- Scales and DOT inspections
- Waiting for loading or unloading delays
- Repairs on the truck or trailer
Aside from the 11-hour-a-day driving rule, federal safety regulations limit you to 14 hours of driving time per day, with some exceptions.
Starting a career as a truck driver requires careful route planning to maximize travel distance while staying within the legally mandated driving limits and to minimize time spent stationary behind the wheel.
Being an owner-operator or an independent contractor is the best way to make the most money as a truck driver.
Those who work as independent contractors have more control over the routes they take, the hours they work, and the money they earn. Rather than getting paid per mile like company drivers, many independent contractors split the freight bill for the loads they haul.
Seventy-two percent of the freight bill is earned by independent contractors who drive refrigerated trucks. Additionally, flatbed truckers also make 72%.
Seventy-one percent of the freight bill goes to tanker contractors. For the first three weeks as an owner-operator, drivers with at least six months of driving experience will earn a guaranteed $1,000 per week.
Some truck leasing companies provide an option for truck drivers wanting to strike out on their own. As a result, entrepreneurs can start their businesses without putting any money or credit at risk.
The California Trucking Association (CTA) is the state’s largest trucking trade association, representing the interests of the state’s trucking industry. Its mission is to promote trucking industry advocacy, safety, compliance, and leadership.
CTA, which operates out of Sacramento, offers its members a wide range of resources, including access to Capitol Hill and a voice in policymaking. The trucking industry’s motor carriers and suppliers benefit from these resources in the long run. Leadership training and educational opportunities are among the services provided by the CTA.
Truck driving is an excellent career choice if you enjoy being on the highway, are self-motivated, flexible, and don’t mind operating alone. There will never be a shortage of truck drivers.
Driving a truck may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a way to get away from the daily 9–5 monotony and then see the nation from the open highway, it’s an excellent idea.