Truck driving in Alaska is a rewarding career, both in terms of salary and the unique opportunities for the adventure it provides. However, it also provides some unique challenges. The most important of these is that drivers must be prepared to handle extreme weather and road conditions.
If you’ve decided to pursue a career in truck driving in Alaska, the first step is determining what qualifications you need to meet. Below, we’ll go over the basic qualifications for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Alaska, along with other necessary qualifications.
A Class A CDL is a Good Start
The most important qualification for driving a semi-truck in Alaska is having a valid Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL). If you already have yours, great! If you need to obtain a CDL you’ll need to enroll in a CDL Training School that includes in its curriculum the recently required Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT).
Most schools include training that will assist you in obtaining your Commercial License Permit (CLP). If, however, you need to obtain your CLP on your own, you’ll need to study the CDL manual and take the following written tests at your DMV: General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles.
With your CLP in hand, your chosen CDL Training School will provide the opportunity to learn in the classroom (ELDT) as well as Behind the Wheel Training. After your training is complete, you’ll need to pass a Class A CDL Road Exam conducted by the DMV or a 3rd Party DMV Examiner.
Endorsements are Encouraged
The Entry Level Driver Training provided by your chosen CDL School may, or may not, include the Entry Level Driver Training for the Hazardous Materials Endorsement. Because so many Alaska Carriers haul loads that include Hazardous Materials, having the HazMat Endorsement (H) is highly recommended. It should be noted, if you already have your CDL, but you’ve never had a HazMat Endorsement, you’ll need to complete the HazMat portion of Entry Level Driver Training. There are numerous, and reasonably priced, online options for obtaining the HazMat ELDT Certificate.
The other endorsements you should consider include Tanker (N) and Doubles/Triples (T). Because many linehaul driving jobs require the driver to pull 2 trailers, the Doubles/Triples endorsement is also highly recommended. After getting the endorsement, which consists of passing a written test at the DMV, the Federal Regulations require additional Long Combination Vehicle (LCV) Training. Most companies either provide or make arrangements for this training.
If you choose to get all three endorsements, the DMV will assign you an X (Tanker/HazMat combination endorsement) and T (Doubles/Triples). A CDL holder need only be 18 years old but, because of HazMat Regulations, most companies will require their drivers to be at least 21 years of age. Additionally, nearly all the freight hauled in Alaska originated in another state. That means most of our freight is said to be “interstate”. The regulations require a driver hauling interstate freight to be at least 21 years old.
Experience Driving in Winter Conditions
Having real-world experience is essential. Many employers in Alaska will require drivers to have at least six months of previous experience driving in winter conditions. This means that you should try to get as much experience as you can before applying for jobs.
This experience can be obtained through short-term truck driving jobs in various parts of the country, or by working as a transportation coordinator in an Alaska port.
The Ability to Maintain Your Vehicle
Finally, having the ability to maintain your vehicle is an essential skill for any truck driver in Alaska. This means being able to check, adjust, and repair essential parts such as brakes, bearings, tires, and lights. It also involves being able to perform minor repairs such as changing oil and fuel filters. Having knowledge of diesel engine maintenance and repair is also beneficial.
Overall, truck driving in Alaska can be a challenging but rewarding career. It requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards can be great. If you’re up for the challenge, pursuing a truck driving career in Alaska could be an excellent opportunity to see the state and gain valuable experience.
Carlile Is Always Looking for Good Truck Drivers in Alaska
At Carlile, we believe that investing in our drivers is one of the best ways to ensure our fleet’s success. Our drivers are at the heart of our business, and we strive to provide them with excellent working conditions and competitive pay. If you are interested in joining Carlile, please visit our website and fill out an application.
Good luck on your journey toward becoming a truck driver in Alaska, and we hope to hear from you!