Commercial driving in Alaska can be a rewarding and exciting job. The gorgeous scenery and sprawling landscapes you get to drive through each day are unbeatable. But to enjoy cruising down Alaska highways in a commercial vehicle, you’ll need the right skills, training and certification.
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When Do You Need a CDL in Alaska?
The legal requirements for commercial driver’s licenses don’t vary much from state-to-state because of federal guidelines. The Alaska DMV states you’ll need a commercial license when:
- The vehicle or truck and trailer combination is more than 26,000 pounds
- You’re driving a vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers
- You’re transporting hazardous materials
How to Get a CDL in Alaska
First, if you don’t have a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from another state, you’ll need your Commercial Learner’s Permit. The learner’s permit is issued by the Alaska DMV and allows you to go through a course designed for the vehicle you want to drive, such as operating a tour bus.
If you’re interested in working as a tour bus driver, 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. We also have schools in Provo, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho. The course includes classroom time and driving time. This training also trains you to be a local tour guide wherever you choose to work in Alaska.
CDL Qualifications in Alaska
After you’ve chosen a CDL training program, there are a few remaining tasks to complete before you apply for a CDL at an Alaska DMV.
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 and have an Alaska driver’s license. Some of the basic guidelines include:
- You must be at least 19 years old to apply for an Alaska CDL. However, to be a driver for Alaska Tour Jobs you will need to be at least 21 years old.
- You must have held a valid Alaska driver’s license for at least a year to qualify for a Commercial Learner’s Permit.
- There are different classes of CDL. Tour bus drivers will need a Class B commercial license, including the Alaska DMV tests for passenger endorsement and air brakes.
- CDL applicants must also pass a Department of Transportation medical exam and obtain a DOT medical card. Alaska Tour Jobs pays the medical exam and drug testing expenses for employees in our CDL training program.
Steps to Take Before Applying for a CDL
If you’re qualified for a CDL, then there are only a few steps remaining before you can apply for the license and take the applicable tests. The exams and next steps will depend on the license you’re applying for. If you’re driving a tour bus, you’ll need to take a passenger transport knowledge test in addition to your road test. To help you prepare, the DMV has example tests that you can purchase.
Once you’ve reviewed Alaska’s manual for commercial drivers, you’ve had your permit for at least two weeks and you have the necessary Class B training, then you’re ready to test for your license. One sidenote, if you’re a military service member with a current driver’s license and you drove heavy military vehicles while on duty, you might be able to skip the road test portion. Check with the DMV to see if you’re qualified.
Extra CDL Information for Seasonal Alaska Workers
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. Alaska Tour Jobs requires all of its drivers have a good driving record and no DUI’s in the last eight years.
Working in Alaska as a commercial driver is a unique opportunity, which gives you a chance to get to know the culture and discover intimate insights about the landscape that most tourists miss. Take a look at our current job openings and make Alaska your new home.