SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. - Western Nebraska Community College congratulated their 100th student to complete the Class A CDL training course and obtain a Commercial Driver’s License on June 20.

Julio Sanchez, who is also a May graduate of WNCC's Powerline Construction & Maintenance Technology program, successfully completed the CDL program and passed his DMV driving test to become the 100th graduate of the program.

Sanchez is originally from Wayne, Nebraska and lived in Alliance while he completed his Powerline and CDL classes. He will be moving back home where he already has accepted a job as a lineman with the City of Wayne.

In May of 2023 WNCC began offering the CDL course to Powerline program graduates in response to requests from regional power companies who require new hires to have their CDL.

“Offering the CDL training course to students right after they graduate from Powerline is a key determinant of their success in the industry” said Shane Homan, Powerline program director at the Alliance Campus. “Thanks to the CDL team, we’re able to add this critical qualification to graduates’ resumes and send them into the workforce with a more marketable and comprehensive skill set. The power companies appreciate that.” 

WNCC has also obtained third-party tester status from the State of Nebraska. Two instructors are now DMV-certified examiners which means they can administer the DMV driving exam, so students don’t have to wait for appointments with the DMV. This is faster and more convenient for students.

The WNCC CDL program was reestablished in January 2021.

“There was and still is high demand for Class A CDL drivers in the state and throughout the country. Since we began, our classes have always been full and there is usually a waiting list” Doug Mader, WNCC director of workforce development, said.

The WNCC CDL program owes much of its success to the financial aid resources available to students, including the Gap Funding grant program. Gap pays tuition and the majority of academic expenses related to CDL training and does not need to be repaid. It has afforded many economically challenged students the opportunity to obtain a CDL after just four weeks and begin earning, on average, about $55,000 annually.

"We have seen peoples’ lives change within a four-week period and that’s the most rewarding aspect of this program,” Mader said.

Plans for expanding the CDL program include establishing courses in Sidney and Chadron within the next two years.

“We are recruiting instructors in those areas and hope to begin offering at least one class in Sidney in the fall," Mader said. "We’ll add classes in those areas as resources permit.”

To learn more about WNCC's CDL program, visit go.wncc.edu/CDL or contact Deb Davis, workforce training coordinator, at [email protected] or 308.635.6335.