Walmart Inc. said it has expanded its in-house driver training program to include associates located within a 50-mile radius of an office where transport workers are hired.
The expanded initiative comes nine months after the retail behemoth (NYSE: WMT) launched a program allowing its supply chain employees to obtain their commercial driver’s licenses. Since the program began, 56 workers have been trained, obtained CDLs and are behind the wheel of Walmart trucks, the company said Wednesday.
Walmart said it will cover the cost of the expanded program, which runs for three months. It said it hopes to bring on 252 drivers during the year. Employees can apply at any of Walmart’s 23 fleet development training centers, the company said.
Walmart’s driving jobs are considered some of the most attractive in all of trucking. According to the company, drivers can earn up to $110,000 in their first year of driving. That figure is well above the industry average of about $71,000 quoted on Glassdoor.
In addition, Walmart’s huge private fleet, which employs about 13,000 drivers, operates over regular, predictable routes between distribution centers and its stores. Drivers know their routes each day and are often home the same day or the next day.
In a blog post Wednesday, Fernando Cortes, Walmart’s vice president of transportation, said many employees have wanted to become drivers but were deterred by the time and expense of the training required.
Truckload driver wages vary widely depending on the company and the driver’s experience. Driver wages have risen steadily over the past few years as carriers have sought to attract and retain qualified workers.