Alaska CDL Requirements
Difficult and at times hazardous to drive on, with harsh weather conditions and rare opportunities to refuel, overland transportation in Alaska requires special care and safety concerns, as well as a dedicated state of mind. Alaska's CDL drivers carry valuable goods between towns, cities, rural areas, industrial and seasonal camps like Deadhorse, Juneau and Sitka while witnessing some of the most scenic views in the world on routes like Denali Park Road and Turnagain Arm Drive. While all states must conform to federal regulations and standards, Alaska's harsh and remote environment means there are special circumstances for CDL operators to consider. Read on to learn about these and other considerations to learn how to become a truck driver in Alaska.
What CDL Licenses Are Available in Alaska?
The state of Alaska creates training manuals and staffs testing sites in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The intent is to ensure that each CDL operator is trained well for the class of license they need:
CDL Class A
Any combination of vehicles that have a total weight of 26,001 lbs. This generally applies to tractor-trailer combination vehicles. Any driver with a Class A CDL may drive a class Class A, B, C, or D vehicle unless additional endorsements are required.
CDL Class B
Any ONE vehicle where the total weight is more than 26,001 pounds, or any vehicle towing another vehicle that doesn't weigh more than 10,000 lbs. This generally applies to cement mixing vehicles, oversized cube trucks and garbage trucks. Any driver with a Class B CDL may drive a class Class B, C, or D vehicle unless additional endorsements are required.
CDL Class C
Any one vehicle that weighs less than 26,001 pounds, or any combination where the towed vehicle is less than 10,000 pounds. This includes vehicles designed to carry 15 or more passengers plus driver, and those vehicles used to transport hazardous waste, a select agent or a toxin as defined by 49 USC 5103 or 42 CFR Part 73. Any driver with a Class C CDL may drive a class Class C or D vehicle unless additional endorsements are required.
If the actual weight exceeds the weight rating, the actual weight will be used in determining CDL classes and violations.
Personal Use Class D
A Class D license is the standard non-commercial license that CDL candidates must already possess when applying for their CDL. A Class D license allows people to operate a personal or recreational vehicle, operated for personal matters.
CDL Eligibility in Alaska
Since the first roads were cleared on mainland Alaska, CDL truck drivers have gone above and beyond the required safety measures to keep themselves, their cargo, and other drivers safe. In recent years, requirements and eligibility have been more closely regulated.
License and Permits
Applicants must already possess a Class D license in order to start the CDL process.
In Alaska, CDL candidates must hold a Commercial Learner's Permit for at least 14 days before their on-road skills test.
Veterans may apply to ‘fast-track' the CDL process due to their military vehicle experience.
CDL applicants must be 19 years of age or older to use their CDL to drive trucks in-state (also called ‘intrastate').
CDL applicants must be 21 years of age or older to use their CDL from state-to-state (also called interstate).
Proof of Residence in Alaska
CDL drivers must provide proof of domicile in the state where they wish to operate. Due to the remoteness of some of Alaska's services and infrastructure, read the document requirements carefully to ensure you meet the state's criteria for CDL application.
CDL Requirements for Alaska
- Current driver license
- Social Security card
- Proof of insurance
Off-Highway CDL Requirements for Operators in Remote Alaskan Communities
Due to the fact that the road network only covers a fraction of the state, Alaskans living in qualifying remote towns, camps, or reserves like Iditarod, Marshall, or Seal Bay where roads are limited may apply for a special Off-Road CDL. The application process is listed below:
- Provide proof of age
- Provide Social Security number
- Provide proof of residence in a qualifying community from the qualifying list here: http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/reg/exempt.htm
- Pass the written test of knowledge at a CDL office or with a Proctor
- Pass a vision test
Please note that Off-Highway CDLs are only valid in specific communities listed on the Alaskan DMV website, and that there is no practical road skills test for this CDL, however restrictions to where you can drive do apply.
Alaska CDL Requirements for Out-of-State Residents and Transfers
Seasonal workers - CDL drivers in Alaska for seasonal work must have a CDL from their state of domicile. An Alaskan CDL is not required for this purpose.
New Alaska residents - Within 30 days of your move, obtain an Alaskan CDL by visiting the nearest DMV with all appropriate prior and new information. You may be asked for:
- Alabama ID card
- Alabama Class D driver's license
- U.S. birth certificate
- Current U.S. passport
Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Alaska CDL
Non-U.S. Citizens: Dual Jurisdiction - Due to Alaska's proximity to Canada, there are often Canadian vehicles that operate regularly between the two countries. In this case, vehicles must register in Alaska as well.
Dual jurisdiction vehicles may possess and display more than one license plate and registration certificate.
Non-U.S. Citizens: Permanent Relocation - these individuals should come prepared to the registration office with as much supporting information as possible. In addition to the above, you may be asked for:
- Resident alien card
- Valid foreign passport with valid U.S. immigration documentation
- Certificate of naturalization
- Certificate of citizenship
- U.S. certificate of birth abroad
Do I Need a CDL?
- If you drive a recreational or emergency vehicle, CDL criteria does not apply
- CDL candidates should note on their application if they have military experience; often this experience is enough to waive certain portions of testing. Please remember to bring supporting documentation if this is the case.
- Farm vehicles and drivers do not require a CDL if the vehicle in question stays within 150 miles of the farm and is not used in a contract carrier arrangement.
Medical and Physical CDL Requirements
Federal CDL requirements state that every driver must complete a medical exam and carry a valid medical card.
Please visit the National Registry to find an examiner close to you. After your appointment and if you meet fitness requirements for the role, the examiner will issue a Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination.
Interstate vision requirements are regulated at 20/40 vision or better. Those applicants with less vision than 20/40 should apply for a Vision Waiver.
After the initial issuance, the state's Medical Self-Certification form may be submitted.
Background Check for CDL Applicants
Any CDL Class C applicant must undergo the TSA Threat Assessment background check. Failing this screening process means that applicants are not eligible for this role.
CDL Testing in Alaska
Depending on the class and endorsement of license that you'd like to pursue, you may have to take more than one knowledge and skills tests to qualify. The state of Alaska strongly encourages people to pay by credit or debit card and that appointments for skills tests should be scheduled well in advance and during optimal climate conditions.
CDL Knowledge Tests
- General Knowledge test (all applicants)
- Passenger Transport test for bus drivers
- School Bus test for bus drivers
- Air Brakes test for air brakes, AZ, and air over hydraulic braking
- Combination vehicles test
- Hazardous Materials test
- Tanker test for liquid and liquid gases
- Doubles/Triples test for multiple trailers
CDL Skills Tests
Upon passing the necessary knowledge test(s), you are eligible for the CDL skills tests, which can be taken in the type of vehicle you wish to drive.
- Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection test
- Basic Vehicle Control test
- Road test
Alaska CDL Endorsements
Depending on the type of employment the CDL operator seeks, additional endorsements for specialty vehicles and situations may be required. In this case, extra knowledge and sometimes skills testing will be required:
- Hazardous Materials (H)
- Tanker (N)
- Passenger (P)
- School Bus (S)
- Double or Triple Trailers (T)
- Combo Tanker/Hazardous Materials (X)
Alaska CDL Disqualifications
Alaska divides disqualifying offenses into several categories. Most serious are those that are applicable when in a commercial vehicle (CMV) or in a personal vehicle. Penalties for offenses depend on the seriousness of the offence, the risk to others and whether the offense is recurring or not, as well as if the operator was transporting hazardous materials or passengers. Penalties can range from 24 hour CDL suspension to lifetime revocation of your CDL.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Refusing to submit to roadside blood-alcohol level testing
- Leaving an accident scene
- Motor vehicle felony
- Driving while license has been suspended or revoked
- Causing a fatality due to negligent driving
- Committing a felony offense
- Speeding more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit
- Following another vehicle too closely (tailgating)
- Erratic, hazardous or negligent lane changes
- Driving in a negligent fashion
- Failing to act in accordance with the law at the scene of an accident
- Operating a CMV without a commercial driver's license
- Driving without proof of CDL
- Operating without the appropriate class and endorsements of CDL
- Using a handheld electronic device while operating a vehicle
- Having been disqualified and thus out-of-service, some CDL drivers are tempted to continue to drive while out-of-service. Repeat violations of Alaska's out-of-service regulations will result in permanent revocation of your CDL.
- At-grade railroad crossings can be problematic for truck drivers - knowing the terrain, traffic, what type of cargo you're carrying, and being alert to danger and applicable signs can keep you from committing a violation. If caught, an escalating system of CDL license suspensions are put into place, starting with a first suspension of 60 days.
Alaska CDL Salary, Employment and Job Prospects
U.S. salary and job forecast data accessed through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that outlook for CDL drivers is favorable over the next decade, with an anticipated growth rate of about 13% or considerably higher than the national forecast. This means that prospects for motivated CDL operators are good!
Heavy Truck Salary
The median wage for heavy truck drivers in Alaska is about 52,000 a year, with the top 10% of drivers making almost $80,000, or a full $20,000 more annually than their associates in the lower 48. With a growth rate of 14%, Alaska is hiring more drivers than the national average as well.
Light Truck Salary
Light truck and intrastate CDL drivers in Alaska earn, on average, about $37,000 each year, as compared to their southern counterparts at just under $30,000 annually. Alaska's faster than average growth rate means that there's a need for 50 new truck drivers each year for the next decade.
Resources for Alaska CDL Requirements
Visit the Alaska Department of Administration Division of Motor Vehicles website for more information.
Learn more about Alaska trucking schools.
Truck Driver Salary in Alaska
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Table data taken from 2015 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm)