Driving an Alaska tour bus can be a rewarding and exciting job – but you’ll need the right skills, training, and certification to do it. As a driver-guide, it will be your job to ensure the safety of Alaska visitors who are here to enjoy the state’s beauty as they travel between destinations. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to becoming a new Alaska driver-guide.
How to get my CDL in Alaska
If you don’t have a Class B Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, from another state, you’ll first need your commercial learner’s permit, which you can get through the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles. The learner’s permit allows you to go through a course designed for passenger bus drivers. Alaska Tour Jobs offers a paid 85-hour CDL training program that will prepare you to take the tests for your license. Programs are offered in various locations in Alaska, Provo, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho. The course includes classroom time as well as driving time. This program will also train you to be a local tour guide wherever you choose to work in Alaska.
What I need to get my CDL
Anyone driving a vehicle in Alaska designed to carry 16 or more passengers must hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). You’ll apply for your CDL through the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Be sure to check the DMV’s website to ensure you have everything you need to apply – requirements change depending on if you’re an Alaska resident or not. You must be at least 19 years old to apply for an Alaska CDL, however; in order to be a driver for Alaska Tour Jobs you will need to be at least 21. Understand that there are different classes of CDL: To drive a motorcoach you’ll be seeking a Class B commercial license, passenger endorsement, and airbrakes.
If you’re ready to apply
Review Alaska’s manual for commercial drivers. You’ll need to take a passenger transport knowledge test in addition to your road test. Once you’ve reviewed the manual, you’ve had your permit for at least two weeks, and you have the necessary Class B training, you’re ready to test for your license. If you’re a military service member with a current license and you drove heavy military vehicles while on duty, you might be able to skip the road test portion. Check with the DMV.
What else I need to know
- If you’re only in Alaska for seasonal work and you already hold a Class B CDL from another state, you don’t have to apply for a new license in Alaska. If you fall in love with Alaska and decide to become a permanent resident, you’ll need to get an Alaska CDL within a month of moving here.
- You may not be able to drive a tour bus in Alaska if you’ve been convicted of certain crimes, including driving a commercial vehicle under the influence or leaving the scene of a crash.
- Before you can get your CDL, you’ll need a valid medical card to ensure you meet the physical requirements – such as vision and hearing – to drive a tour bus (Alaska Tour Jobs pays for the physical).
How can I gain an edge?
Even before you apply for your CDL, you should familiarize yourself with Alaska’s roads, routes to and from major destinations and points of interest. It will make you an even better tour bus driver, and you’ll get a chance to know The Last Frontier whether you’re here for the summer or plan to make the state your permanent home. And then you’ll be ready to share your newfound knowledge with all your curious passengers who just wished they lived here.