Integrated education training prepares student for rewarding career in trucking

Career in trucking, Sandra Cortes
Career in trucking

Since Sandra Cortes was a child, she wanted to drive big trailers. However, her mother believed it was a job suited only for men. So, Cortes put her dream aside and settled for driving 10-wheel trucks, water trucks, and tractors with trailers on a dairy farm in Jerome, Idaho. Everything changed when she learned about the College of Southern Idaho’s (CSI) commercial driver’s license program (CDLP).

In Idaho, aspiring commercial truck drivers need a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) to enroll in truck driving school. Getting this permit involves applying and taking a written test, but Cortes faced a language barrier that prevented her from meeting these requirements. However, CSI’s CDLP is part of its integrated educational training (IET) programs. This specialized adult education model tailors learning experiences to a particular profession, so students receive job-specific training while improving other basic skills like literacy and English language acquisition. It was a perfect fit for Cortes’ needs and interests.

“At CSI, our IET programs focus on careers in high demand for our region, such as welding or certified nursing assistant,” said Jennifer Hall, director of College and Career Readiness and adult basic education at CSI. “According to the Idaho Department of Labor’s August 2023 labor market report for South Central Idaho, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers were among the three occupations with the most job postings.”

When students enroll in the program, they’re assessed on their skills so support can be tailored to their current needs and abilities. The eight-week program includes learning job-specific skills like safety protocols, traffic laws, basic vehicle inspection, and general education skills such as vocabulary tailored to commercial truck driving.

“The CDLP program helped me understand there is more to driving than just getting on a trailer and moving forward. I use what I learned from this program every day; it’s changed the way I drive.”

Sandra Cortes

After completing the program, students earn their CLP and can enroll in one of CSI’s partner driving schools for their commercial driver’s license (CDL). After Cortes finished the intensive four-week driving course with an endorsement in doubles and triples, CSI extended job placement aid, leading her to her current role as a long-haul truck driver at Riverence, an Idaho-based sustainable aquaculture company.

Cortes is thrilled with her new career and deeply appreciates the support she received.

“I started with little experience, but they gave me a chance to learn,” Cortes said. “Riverence feels like my second school; landing this job has been an incredible experience.”