Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) is now offering on-campus customized Commercial Driver’s License Training, more commonly known as CDL Training.
Previously, NCC had subcontracted with an outside vendor to provide training, but with an increase in demand for training and a need for increased flexibility in scheduling, NCC now offers CDL training taught by full-time NCC employees. NCC’s CDL Train & Test started serving the region (including neighboring states) in February of 2018 and continues to provide multiple offerings each month.
Sawyer Wieseler, Coordinator—Workforce Development & Training, was hired in 2017, and one of her first projects was to set up the CDL Train & Test program. “Currently we have two employees that have finished their DOT certified examination training. Having NCC trainers and DOT licensed examiners is a great benefit to the community, because we now have more control over the scheduling of when we offer CDL training and exams.” Wieseler continued, “We recently hired a full time Transportation Program Coordinator, David Van Egdom. He will be responsible for coordination and instruction of all Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) trainings. The program has grown very fast. The local need has surpassed even our expectations, such that this program needs a full-time coordinator to better serve our constituents.”
Right now the CDL Train & Test program is set up with the understanding that a person training has prior knowledge of driving with some type of trailer. This might include experience with backing up a boat or camper, or using equipment around the farm. In the future, with the addition of a full-time coordinator, NCC officials hope to offer classes for people with absolutely no prior trailer experience.
One of the benefits for students of the CDL Train & Test program is the ability to use NCC’s equipment.
“A student can use NCC’s semi-truck and trailer which has passed all DOT inspections. What you are training and learning on is the same equipment you eventually test on. That can be very helpful,” commented Wieseler.
On-campus classes are typically offered on Mondays and Tuesdays. The training covers pre-trip inspections, skills (three back-up maneuvers), and practice on a DOT approved driving/testing route. The participant must have a Commercial Learner’s Permit for 15 days prior to starting the training. You must be 18 to get a CDL in Iowa (note: if a person is 18–21, they can only drive in their state of residence).
Matt Osterkamp, a CDL student said, “I wanted to get my CDL because of my job. You get better benefits, like a raise, if you have your CDL. I have liked the class so far. I am new to trucking, but the instructor is very understandable and explains everything really well, and I am learning a lot. It’s nice, because my employer is paying my tuition.”
NCC’s CDL Train & Test program is offered to individuals or companies. Custom group training is also available to elevators, trucking companies, construction companies, etc., by calling NCC. NCC offers the only training program in their 4 ½ county service area.
Wieseler summed things up by saying, “We are directly meeting the needs of our community, and we look forward to continuing to do so through growth and customized opportunities.”