Wackerman joined the Bill Watrous band in 1978 and later went on to work with Frank Zappa from 1981 to 1988. In 1983, he toured, but did not record, with Australian rock act Men at Work. Wackerman played on the ?One Voice' album and video with Barbra Streisand. He has also recorded albums and toured with artists such as Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Andy Summers, Ed Mann, Albert Lee, Colin Hay, Dweezil Zappa and Tom Grant.
Chad was also the drummer for the house band on the first Dennis Miller late night talk show. Chad has also toured with James Taylor, John Petrucci and Joe Sample, as well as fellow Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio in a series of all-percussion concerts. Chad lived in Australia for ten years between 1995 and 2005. Due to changes in the music scene in Australia and an increase in gigs in the United States, Chad decided to move back to California in July, 2005.
He is the older brother of Brooks Wackerman, the current drummer of Bad Religion.