Truck Driving Schools in Alaska
Despite its large size, Alaska has only one school that provides truck driving education to students—Ilisagvik College in Barrow. Located in a rural area with a small campus, Ilisagvik is a good choice if you thrive with one-on-one assistance from professors. The student to faculty ratio in Alaska is 7:1. Tuition at Ilisagvik College is just over $2,700 per semester for in-state students, and almost $4,000 per semester for out-of-state students. 77% of students at this college get financial aid, making this an affordable school for most students.
Listed under Heavy Equipment Operations, Ilisagvik's truck driving program provides students with a thorough education in driving and maintaining a tractor-trailer combination. The program is offered one time every semester, and has a few requirements for interested students. You must have had a driver's license for at least one year leading up to admission, pass a vision and physical test, and be at least 19 years old. At the end of the course, students earn a certificate and should be prepared to take the commercial driver's license test.
If you go to Ilisagvik College, you may be able to apply for the Alaska Performance Scholarship. This scholarship awards up to $4,755 per year to students that meet certain educational requirements.
In order to work as a truck driver in Alaska, you must earn your commercial driver's license from the Division of Motor Vehicles. You have to pass a background check, vision test, road test, and written test before you earn your CDL. The fee to take the test is $100. If you take a road test, you have to pay an additional $50.
You may choose to get a Class A, Class B, or Class C license. If you have a Class A license, you can also drive any vehicle that falls under a Class B or C license.
The need for truck drivers in Alaska is growing at a fairly consistent rate. There were 2,740 truck drivers in Alaska in 2010, according to O*Net (O*Net, 2010). They expect that number to grow to 3,010 by 2020 (O*Net, 2010).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for truck drivers is growing faster than average, at a growth rate of about 21%. This works out to over 330,000 expected new truck driving jobs in the United States by 2020 (BLS, 2010).
Truck drivers in Alaska can look forward to good compensation for their work. O*Net lists the median salary for truck drivers in Alaska as $51,100. This is much higher than the national average of $38,200 per year! The range of salaries is fairly wide, going from $35,100 per year up to $70,000 per year (O*Net, 2012).
Truck drivers that are willing to work in rural, remote regions may be able to earn salaries at the higher end of the pay scale. As you earn more experience, you may also qualify for a salary on the high end of the scale.
The large variety of employers in Alaska means that truck drivers can choose to work in many different environments. Employers include trucking companies, oil companies, agriculture companies, and leasing centers. Some of the main truck driving employers in Alaska include Lynden Transport, Rush Truck Centers, Nelson Leasing, and Little Red Services.
As a truck driver, you may be expected to drive to remote, rural locations in Alaska. You might be home every night, but more likely than not you will be on the road all week and then return home for the weekend. This may change as you gain seniority; truck drivers that stay with one company for a long time may be able to be home more often than new truck drivers.
The large oil industry in Alaska has created an increasing demand for skilled, educated truck drivers. This makes Alaska a great state for new truck drivers. Alaska is known for its wilderness and natural beauty, often found in its small villages and towns spread throughout the state. Truck drivers that want to enjoy the amenities of city living can do so in Alaska, in large cities like Anchorage, Sitka, Juneau, and Fairbanks.
Sperling's Best Places reports that the cost of living in Alaska is about 30% higher than the national average, with food and utilities being the two most expensive parts of living in Alaska. This is offset by the high wages that truck drivers in Alaska can earn, particularly if they are willing to travel to more remote regions of the state.