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At my own Pace: The Road to CDL

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A Commercial Driver License (CDL) can bring more job opportunities. Especially in the Industrial City of New Jersey, having a CDL can lead to many sustainable options.  Acquiring a CDL and becoming a truck driver is one of many desired entries into stable employment. Many IRC clients are looking to find jobs that require a CDL because they find it can help them secure higher wages.   

Technical CDL training and coursework vary between $2,000 to 3,000 depending on training hours. This fee often dissuades clients from enrolling in CDL training because of the added financial strain. With many IRC clients having a family to take care of, they need to consider how and when is the right time to study for the CDL.  

The Career Pathways program at the IRC in NJ’s Economic Empowerment Unit is partnering with E-Z Wheels to assist clients with enrolling and affording CDL training. 

These potential financial and time constraints inspired EE to collaborate with the Education and Learning Unit (ED&L). EE screens and enrolls clients into its CDL support and training sessions overseen by the EDL. EE partners with EZ Wheels to help clients enroll in the training school, arrange an exam date, and process expenses. Moreover, both units support clients by outlining the training plan and the EZ Wheels guidelines.  

Next, the ED&L unit runs group study sessions to help students with their training curriculum. The ED&L Skills Instructor assists with the driving test and exam curriculum, ensuring clients are set up for success.  

Study sessions take place in a hybrid model of informal/formal groups. Some clients even get together with their peers to help each other study! 

While the Career Pathways program does have a 3-month cap for training sessions, the CDL sessions are an exception. The IRC in NJ is aware and believes strongly that the road to obtaining CDL grades requires patience. IRC gives clients the space and time to study at their own pace. So far, 8 clients have obtained their CDL. 

The IRC in NJ is building a growing network of partners that offers IRC clients employment upon receiving their CDL. After completion, clients return with their certificates and are assisted by EE to find a compatible job placement. Throughout the program, the IRC in NJ has seen how clients advocate for their needs. Achieving this license means that clients can look for a wider range of jobs and make their financial mobility more attainable.  

Recently, we heard from Roxsene, a client who studied hard for the CDL exam. She took the exam twice and found parallel parking a trailer vehicle difficult. She shares:  

“I appreciate that during the pandemic, IRC in NJ supported me with the online manual practice materials.” Reflecting on both exams, Roxsene passionately shares advice for CDL training enrollees, “When you start, don’t give up! It pays off!”  

A picture of Roxsene, a client in NJ, smiling and holding her new Commercial Driver License.
Roxsene gets her Commercial Driver License! Photo: Economic and Empowerment Unit. IRC in NJ

The IRC in NJ is proud of Roxsene’s new job with FedEx where she is doing exceptionally well and taking the lead on many deliveries.