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    If you want to obtain a CDL in Alaska, you will need to learn to drive the appropriate equipment for your specialty. Many jobs offer truck driver training, as do private schools and some community colleges.

    You are not required by Alaska law to complete any formal classroom or on-the-road training program before you can apply for a commercial driver's license (CDL) and be employed to drive commercial vehicles, buses, or heavy equipment or to transport hazardous material.

    But unless you have had one-on-one training, such as from a family member in the industry, and have been exposed to trucking for a number of years, you will need some amount of formal training.

    Types of Training

    Depending on the type of vehicle you wish to operate, there are different courses you can take. Some of them are:

    • Over-the-road truck driving
    • School and passenger bus driving
    • Heavy equipment operator

    Any large or heavy vehicle that will be driven on roads, streets, highways or thoroughfares will require the driver to hold a CDL. That includes any construction-type equipment that is driven on roads, such as logging trucks, dump trucks and cement mixers.

    Heavy Equipment Operation

    Heavy construction equipment does not require the driver to hold a CDL. Since these vehicles are never driven on the roads, they may be driven by anyone who has been trained to drive heavy equipment. This includes such equipment as graders, rock trucks, water trucks, backhoes and excavators.

    If you are still unsure as to what constitutes a commercial vehicle versus heavy equipment, think of it this way: if a vehicle must be towed or otherwise transported to the job site, and cannot be driven from the construction company yard to the job site, it is heavy equipment. If the machinery or vehicle can be driven to and from the job site over public roads, then it is either a passenger vehicle or a commercial vehicle.

    Where to Find Training

    The Center for Employment Education offers a variety of classes in truck driver training and heavy equipment operation. Some employers also offer training to employees.

    CDL Manual

    Much of what you'll need to know in order to pass the Alaska CDL written test and to prepare for the road tests can be obtained from the Alaska Commercial Driver License Manual. To gain the skills it takes to pass the three parts of the road test will require at least some training and a lot of practice.

    Applying for a CDL

    Read Applying for a new CDL for specific requirements. Basically, you'll need to fill out an application and take both written and skills tests.

    Additionally, if you're going to haul hazardous materials, you must get a background check once you have your CDL permit.

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