Who doesn’t want more opportunities to earn money? Maximize your earning potential as a truck driver by adding a Hazmat endorsement to your CDL. It will take time and effort to pass the CDL Hazmat test and to figure out how to get a Hazmat license, but your work will all pay off in the end.
The additional certification will mean you’ll be qualified for more trucking jobs and to drive more types of loads. This will make you more attractive to employers, and you will likely be paid more per mile. If you’re ready to increase your earning and employment opportunities, read on for answers to your questions about how to get a hazmat certificate and how it can benefit your driving career.
Becoming Hazmat certified means that you’ll be legally qualified to transport any hazardous material, including chemicals, gases, flammable and explosive materials, or anything that can cause significant damage if it leaks. Transporting dangerous materials requires specialized training and certification. Getting your Hazmat license will make sure you can safely haul hazardous materials. If you are wondering, “how do you get a hazmat certificate?” the requirements are outlined below.
Requirements for obtaining your hazmat endorsement include:
After applying, schedule an appointment or walk in to present your application, passport or driver’s license and birth certificate, and $86.50 fee. Your fingerprints are required as part of the background check—hazmat fingerprinting locations include any TSA center. When the background check is complete after 30 to 45 days, you’ll receive the results in the mail and your state’s DMV will be notified of the results.
No, the Hazmat endorsement cannot be issued until the background checks are completed and passed. Check your state’s laws for details. Some may offer a temporary endorsement if you need to renew your CDL before your hazmat, or if the background checks on a renewal aren’t completed before the endorsement expires.
The hazmat endorsement is an additional certification added to your CDL that qualifies you to drive truckloads containing hazardous materials. Like the CDL, the hazmat endorsement is administered by your state’s DMV. There are three different types of hazmat endorsements.
Officially, the authorization to transport hazardous materials is an endorsement. A driver’s certificate is a separate document that is obtained and carried in addition to a driver license, while an endorsement is not a separate document but a mark directly on the driver license. While “hazmat endorsement” is the official term, many people call it a hazmat certificate or hazmat license, but all terms mean the same thing.
To apply for a hazmat endorsement, you need to be at least 21 years of age and a US citizen or permanent resident and not have committed any disqualifying crimes. Some crimes will permanently disqualify you, including treason, terrorism, murder, and illegal handling of explosives. Other crimes will bar you from a hazmat endorsement only temporarily or may be waived if you appeal for it. These crimes include assault, weapons violations, drug dealing, and others. Consult your state and the TSA for a complete list of disqualifying crimes.
Any and every truck driver who transports, or would like to qualify to transport, hazardous materials that could endanger transportation safety. But it’s not only the driver who needs to obtain a Hazmat certificate—anyone who is involved in the transportation of these materials in any way needs an endorsement. This includes anyone who loads, receives, fills, packages, marks, blocks and braces, or classifies hazardous materials. Basically, if you have any contact at all with placarded hazardous materials, you need proper training and certification.
Getting a hazmat endorsement is not a quick process. Plan on 30 days for the background check, plus another week or two, depending on how long each step takes you to complete:
A hazmat license is valid for 5 years. When those five years are over, you’ll need to go through the process of getting a TSA criminal background check once again. The TSA will notify you about 90 days before your previous background check expires. To renew your hazmat license, go to the TSA to submit fingerprints, pay the fee, and begin the background check process again. Many states will require you to retake the written test or to renew your hazmat at the same time you renew your CDL.
All hazmat employees, including truck drivers, must receive training every 3 years to review requirements and learn any updates or revisions. Truck drivers, and anyone else involved in handling hazardous materials, must be trained regularly to keep up to date on new and revised laws and requirements. Safety on the road depends on drivers knowing and following best practices for transporting hazardous materials.
The total cost of applying for a Hazmat endorsement is about $100. This includes the $86.50 fee charged for the TSA background check, along with any state application fees for taking the written test and updating your CDL. Check with your DMV to find out what costs and fees are associated with the hazmat endorsement in your state. Some companies will reimburse truck drivers for the cost of getting this endorsement, especially if having one is part of the job description and duties. If you are between jobs or are an independent contractor, the costs will be an investment in your career.
Earning your hazmat endorsement can help you maximize your earning potential as a commercial truck driver. Having the license makes you a more valuable employee, and in turn, can increase your salary and how much you are paid per mile or per haul. If you are looking for work right now or working as a contractor, already having your hazmat license will make you stand out among other applicants. Getting a hazmat license will increase the number of trucking jobs you will be qualified to apply for. It is an additional certification that shows your qualification for the job and your dedication to your career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hazardous materials workers made an annual average salary of $45,500 per year in May 2016.
The Department of Transportation has very specific criteria for what hazardous materials must be transported by a driver with a hazmat endorsement. Just because a substance appears on the Hazardous Materials Table doesn’t mean it must always be transported by an endorsed driver. The quantity and form of the material matters in determining how hazardous it is to safety and the environment. The best way to determine if a material can only be transported by trained drivers is to check if it requires placarding—the large diamond-shaped hazard signs posted on the outside of vehicles. If a substance requires placarding, you need a Hazmat endorsement.
The maximum fine for knowingly violating hazardous material transportation laws is $55,00 to $75,000. In addition to a fine, you may lose your CDL, which will make it hard to earn money as a truck driver.
Be prepared: Get ready for your Hazmat and CDL training today with CDL.com.