California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers in California

May also be called: Over the Road Drivers; Line Haul Drivers; Long Haul Truck Drivers; Owner Operators; Flatbed Truck Drivers; and Commercial Trailer Truck Drivers

What Would I Do?

Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer, operate trucks or vans with a capacity of at least 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. They transport goods including cars, livestock, and other materials in liquid, loose, or packaged form.

Heavy Truck Drivers frequently travel at night and on holidays and weekends, to avoid traffic delays and to deliver cargo on time. They normally work the most number of hours allowed by federal regulations. Long-haul trips may keep Drivers away from home for several days at a time.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Heavy Truck Drivers will appeal to those who enjoy working independently and outdoors, providing service to others, working with details, and performing physical activities.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Employers pay long-distance Truck Drivers primarily by the mile. The per-mile rate varies greatly from employer to employer and may depend on the type of cargo they are hauling. Some Drivers are paid a percentage of each load’s revenue. Earnings increase with seniority, miles driven, and the size and type of truck driven.

The median wage in 2017 for Heavy Truck Drivers in California was $44,445 annually, or $21.37 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Generally, Heavy Truck Drivers are provided with medical, dental, disability, and life insurance, and retirement plans. Union Drivers may receive benefits, but they are negotiated by their union representatives.

What is the Job Outlook?

The demand for Heavy Truck Drivers will remain strong because the increased use of rail, air, and ship transportation requires Truck Drivers to pick up and deliver shipments. The trucking industry is beginning to recruit older couples (aged 55 years or older) to meet the hiring demands for long-haul Drivers.

How Do I Qualify?

Heavy Truck Drivers must possess a valid California commercial driver license (Class A) which requires a good driving record and the ability to pass a vision and health examination. Job seekers must be at least 21 years of age to drive most commercial vehicles in interstate commerce or to transport hazardous materials.

Finding a Job

 Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Heavy Truck Drivers