What Is A Tanker Endorsement?
Do you want to level up your career as a truck driver? Getting a tanker endorsement is a simple way to expand your load-carrying options so you can haul more and take on better-paying loads.
As a new driver, getting your tanker endorsement can also help you build up experience in the trucking industry and help give you greater opportunities in the future. But what is a tanker endorsement? A tanker endorsement simply means that drivers are licensed and prepared to safely haul loads containing large quantities of liquid.
Drivers are required to have a tanker endorsement if they carry large quantities of liquid because it requires additional skill to safely transport liquids in a tanker. Without the proper training or skills, driving a tanker can be incredibly dangerous. Untrained drivers can easily roll their tanker or cause an accident.
Before you head out on the open road, you’ll need to know how much is a tanker endorsement, how to get a tanker endorsement, and when the law requires you to be tanker endorsed.
Drivers who are tanker endorsed must have a current CDL and pass the Tanker Endorsement Knowledge Test. Once you pass your test, you will be able to carry liquid cargo for vehicles that require a Class A, B, or C CDL. A tanker endorsement is required for portable tanks, attached tanks, drivers that carry filled cylinders, or intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) filled with liquid—even if they are transported in a dry van.
There are two main types of tanker endorsements:
Along with getting your N or X endorsement so you can haul more loads, you must also learn how to handle surge when transporting liquids, how to do a proper pre-trip check for leaks, and understand different load requirements. Different liquids have different carrying limits because they expand under heat. This means some liquids aren’t permitted to fill the entire tank while you transport them.
The type of tanker endorsement you get will play a part in how much it costs, as well as how long it takes for you to get it. A regular N endorsement requires you to schedule a test appointment and take a trip to the DMV to take the Tanker Endorsement Knowledge Test. The test usually contains 20-30 questions. Once you have paid for and passed your test, you are eligible to receive an N endorsement on your CDL. If you want additional practice to prepare for the written test, there are dozens of practice exams you can find with a quick internet search.
To get an X endorsement on your CDL that allows you to carry hazardous liquid loads, there are a few more steps. You must not only take, pass, and pay for your Tanker Endorsement Knowledge Test, you must also pass a hazmat knowledge test and pass a TSA Background check before you are approved to get your X endorsement. Background checks take two to six weeks on average, but there is no set time for how long they can take.
The information required to pass your tanker endorsement isn’t rocket science, but it will take practice and preparation to make sure you pass your test. Although you can take your test as many times as needed, you don’t want to spend more time and money than necessary by re-taking your test again and again.
Before your test day, plan out time to take practice tests. There are dozens of practice tests available online. These tests cover topics such as:
Review any questions you got wrong on your practice exam and make sure you know how to correctly answer them before you take your test at the DMV. Knowing the practical side of carrying a heavy liquid cargo will help you and others stay safe on the road.
With all this information about why you need a tanker endorsement, you’ve probably wondered, how much is a tanker endorsement? Thankfully, tanker endorsements are fairly inexpensive. Once you have your CDL, additional endorsements range from $10 to $50 depending on the state you live in. In some states, the cost of your X endorsement simply combines the cost of the tanker endorsement with the hazmat endorsement. Check with your state DMV for CDL requirements and regulations as well as specific pricing.
As of July 2015, all truckers hauling portable or attached tanks of 1,000 gallons or more, drivers hauling bulk containers of over 119 gallons or more with a total of 1,000 gallons, or drivers carrying filled cylinders, or IBCs that have liquids of 1,000 gallons or more are all required to have a tanker endorsement. This applies to any truck that requires a Class A, B, or C CDL and is true even if drivers are hauling loads in dry vans.
Whether you are hauling a hazardous or non-hazardous liquid load, you are required to have a tanker endorsement if it meets the above conditions. It’s also important for drivers with a tanker endorsement to inspect their vehicles for leaks before transporting liquids or gas. If you’re stopped for a regular DOT inspection and are found to have leaks, you may face heavy fines, especially if you’re hauling hazardous materials.
Whether you need a tanker endorsement for dry bulk or dry vans depends on what you are transporting. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) now requires all drivers who carry liquid loads that total or exceed 1,000 gallons or that carry multiple tanks of 119 gallons or more and that equal or exceed 1,000 gallons to have a tanker endorsement on their CDL.
You are not required to have a tanker endorsement if you are hauling dry vans carrying empty tank containers or dry loads. While this applies to the majority of loads, it’s always best to stay on top of new regulations so you don’t end up paying fines for not having an endorsement you need.
Tanker endorsements aren’t dependent on the type of liquid load you are carrying, only that it is a liquid. Liquid loads are inherently more dangerous to transport than dry loads because of surge. Unlike dry loads, liquid loads don’t come to rest when your vehicle stops. Surge refers to the liquid cargo in your tanker that is still moving back and forth even after your vehicle has stopped. If the surge is strong enough, it can move your truck even after you have come to a complete stop.
For example, if you’re stopped at a light and experience a strong surge, your truck may be pushed out into the intersection. Baffles and bulkheads in tanks can help reduce surge, but cannot be used for all types of cargo. Food materials like milk, for example, cannot be carried in baffled tanks because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized. In these cases, smooth bore tanks are used—which increase the effects of surge.
Knowing what a tanker endorsement is and how much a tanker endorsement is can help you prepare to get additional endorsements to your CDL so you can land a great truck driving job. Learning how to handle a liquid load, no matter what it is, is vital to keeping you and others safe on the open road.
While you don't need to have a tanker endorsement to drive commercially in the US, having your N or X endorsement will allow you to carry higher-paying loads and have more hauling opportunities. If you’re a new driver, getting as many endorsements and as much experience as you can will give you better driving and career opportunities down the road.