In a note sent Tuesday to all U.S. employees, Walmart outlined plans to bump its average hourly wage to more than $17.50 (reportedly a range of $14 to $19 per hour). The previous range for U.S. store employees was reported at $12 to $17 per hour. The national minimum hourly wage is $7.25.

Penned by John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., the note also outlined company plans to boost its college degree and certificate program and to expand its program that assists employees in getting their commercial driver’s licenses with the potential to earn up to $110,000 in the first year as a Walmart driver.

In the note titled “Continuing to Strengthen Our Jobs and Invest in Our People,” Furner wrote, “At Walmart, we know our people make the difference. That’s never been more true than today—your talent and dedication to your customers are helping them live better lives every day. “And as you continue to focus on your customers, we’re focused on investing in you—our store associates—through higher wages and new opportunities to gain the skills to serve tomorrow’s customers and grow a career with Walmart.

“Today, I’m happy to share our latest steps to shape jobs at Walmart—four new ways we’re investing in you.

“First, starting next month, we’ll begin investing in higher wages for associates. This includes a mixture of associates’ regular annual increases and targeted investments in starting rates for thousands of stores, to ensure we have attractive pay in the markets we operate. We expect these raises will bring our U.S. average hourly wage to more than $17.50. They’ll be reflected in March 2 paychecks.

“Second, we’re continuing to invest in associates who run our Auto Care Centers (ACC). Last fall we created a higher-paying ACC coach role. Now we’re introducing a higher-paying ACC team lead position and elevating the ACC tech position to a higher pay-band that reflects the special skills needed for the role and its importance to our business.

“Third, we’re adding new college degrees and certificates to our Live Better U (LBU) education program. These new options are focused on where our business is headed and will equip associates with skills to unlock new career opportunities. Both part-time and full-time associates can participate in LBU on their first day and we’ll pay 100% of the tuition and fees.

“Fourth, we’re expanding our Associate-to-Driver Program, which pays for supply chain associates to earn their commercial driver’s license and become a Walmart truck driver earning up to $110,000 in their first year. As we announced last week, this development program is now also available to store associates.

“We’re proud to continue investing in Walmart’s legacy by introducing new job opportunities and raising pay. No matter where you are in your journey, getting your start here can open doors – the first step into jobs that become careers and build better lives.

“Thank you for all you do to serve our customers and communities every day.”

Photo courtesy Walmart