BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Walmart announced Thursday it is raising pay for its private fleet of 12,000 truck drivers and launching a new fleet development program to train incoming drivers.

Jimmy Carter of Walmart Corporate Affairs says the investments will ensure the company remains among the best for drivers to work for and will help employers continue to hire aggressively to meet the high demand from customers.

According to a press release, Walmart drivers can now make up to $110,000 in their first year at the company with the new raise, with the potential to make more in the future based on factors such as tenure and location.

Through the new private fleet development program, Carter says Walmart is paying for supply chain associates in select areas to earn their commercial driver’s license – which can cost between $4-5,000 – and become professional drivers for the company.

Over the course of a 12-week program, supply chain associates in the Dallas, Texas, and Dover, Delaware, areas earned their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and became full-fledged Private Fleet Walmart drivers.

With a training infrastructure already built around LBU and Academies – Walmart has equipped its store and supply chain associates with many things from role-specific skills and leadership skills to college degrees and certifications. The Bentonville-based retailer learning ecosystem stood ready to help launch a driver pipeline program.

The release notes the company has many teachers already employed — the already-established drivers of its private fleet.

With another title Certified Driver Trainers, they turned their attention to training a new generation of associates in values of safety, courtesy and pride, the release said.

After completing specialized training in the Walmart Academies, they began working with trainees – teaching written material and overseeing the actual driving.

At the end of the classroom portion of the training, associates graduate with their CDL through LBU, months of experience under trained instructors, and a dedicated mentor to help them transition into their new role.

“Our transportation team will continue to grow with our business, and we’ll continue to invest in them along the way. It’s an exciting time to be part of one of the world’s largest Private Fleets and we plan to keep hiring the best drivers in the industry to join our team,” Walmart said.

To apply to drive for Walmart, visit drive4walmart.com.