Typically starting wages for drivers are $9-10 per hour and most likely they will be earning overtime at time and a half as well. In Alaska, overtime is paid for each hour over 8 hours in a day or over 40 hours in a week. Depending on where you are located you may stay in company housing or need to get an apartment. Any time you are on the road or need to overnight away from your home base, the company will cover your accommodations.
I drove for Gray Line of Seattle when I was in my twenties and I would say that the average age of our drivers was 45 plus. Personally, I think it's a great job if you like to work with people, enjoy history and giving tours and drive, of course.
Was wondering who the best company is to work for; cruise west, princess, gray line, alaska coach tours, etc... My preference is to drive the more modern coaches. I am partial to the Prevost H3 -45, but can drive all. Don't mind cruise ship loading and unloading or excursion trips from the ship. Did that kind of work in Port Canaveral FL.
So how are the tips? Can you learn enough during training to be a driver/guide when you are not from the area?
Didn't really want to bunk with anyone, but did not want to pay high rent either. No sense going to work in Alaska if most of your pay goes to housing and food. Would not mind company dorms and cafeteria style food at reasonable rates, but what are the chances of getting my own room. Are RV parks an option? I could purchase one here and drive it there and tow my car. That way I would have transportation as well.
It's tough to say who the best is. I'm biased toward Gray Line of Alaska and Princess because I worked for them both, but know great people at the others you mentioned and also Royal Celebrity Tours and Premier Alaska Tours. It really depends on the type of work you want to do and where you want to live. Most of them try to keep their fleets updated and you'll find all kinds of coaches up there - GMC, MCI, Prevost and VanHool. I'm sure you could ask them all what types of motorcoaches they own/lease.
Tips, as usual, depend on what run you're doing and the passengers generosity on that particular day. ;) I'm sure there are others on here who know better than I. Check with Carol Rich, who used to drive up in Alaska. During training, most pay you minimum wage so it's not livable, but does help a bit.
If you have an RV, that is a great option. There are spots all over the place. Some employers have spots on site, but most will have them nearby. It's hard to get an individual room, but you never know. Also, for those employers that offer housing and food, it is generally pretty reasonable in relation to how much you'll be making and they do it as a payroll deduction to make it easy.
Great questions. Good luck to you and let me know if I can help in any way.
I just found this info, Kari. Thanks for the info. I still wonder how difficult it might be to secure a driving job without commercial driving experience. Have you been watching Ice Road Truckers? (I always think of Dominic up in Coldfoot.) There is this little tiny girl driving those big rigs on the Haul Road! Truly amazing. I just love the idea of women driving these huge vehicles! Must one go to trucker's school?
Many companies will train you and help you get the license, which is a great benefit. Schools cost quite a bit so look for companies with training programs. I love driving a bus. I felt so powerful and high up behind the wheel of the motorcoach. Plus, the people were a ton of fun to cruise around with. : ) I still have my CDL, fyi, just in case. It's a great skill.