How To Get a CDL-A Hazmat Endorsement

First off, let’s cover why you might want to get a Hazmat endorsement on your Class A truck driver’s license. In a nutshell, it’s about pay. Truck drivers with Hazmat endorsements can run Hazmat freight, which entitles them to earn more per mile than a general OTR driver. Plus, having a Hazmat endorsement provides you with more options, including additional freight and better miles, because you can pull Hazmat customer loads. Only ice road truckers consistently make more money than Hazmat truck drivers.

So, now that we’ve got your attention, we imagine you’ve got a few questions. Let’s start with defining “Hazmat.”

What are hazardous materials?

Hazardous materials are any materials the U.S. Government. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has designated as health or physical hazards. Examples include dry cleaning chemicals (which are flammable) and transmission fluids (which are toxic).

What types of Hazmat endorsements are available for a CDL?

As far as licensing is concerned, there are three different types of Hazmat endorsements available for Class-A truck drivers:

  • H – for transporting placarded hazardous materials
  • N – for tankers designed to transport 119 gallons or more of hazardous liquid or liquid gas
  • X – a combination of hazardous materials and tank endorsements

What steps do you take to get a CDL Hazmat endorsement?

Getting a CDL Hazmat endorsement requires dealing both with the state government that issued your commercial driver’s license and the federal government. The state administers the test that will qualify you to drive Hazmat. But ever since the passage of the Patriot Act of 2001, you also have to undergo a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assessment to verify that the federal government deems it safe for you to transport hazardous materials.

You’ll have to arrange for a TSA threat assessment on your own. It involves providing proof of American citizenship and getting fingerprinted. Once that is complete, the state that issued your CDL-A will be free to issue you a Hazmat endorsement, assuming you pass the test. Here’s a link to learn more about the TSA’s Hazmat Endorsement Program.

Needless to say, if you’ve been convicted of any crime that would put you on a TSA or FBI list, such as espionage or treason, you won’t be able to get a Hazmat endorsement. Other state and federal convictions can be waived upon successful petition.

As far as the state requirements, the state organization that administers the Hazmat tests will be the same one that oversees commercial drivers (i.e., the same one that issued your CDL-A license), which varies from state to state. In Missouri, for example, the State Highway Patrol oversees commercial drivers licenses. In Pennsylvania, though, the Department of Motor Vehicles issues them.

What’s the cost of a CDL Hazmat endorsement?

The overall cost of getting a CDL Hazmat endorsement is about $100. The TSA screening costs $86.50, plus whatever fees the state charges you to take the test and update your CDL-A license. If you’re driving 2,500 miles a week, you’ll make that back in two to four weeks, depending on how much of a bump in pay you get.

At PAM, you don’t have to think about the return on investment of getting a Hazmat endorsement. We pay $0.02 more per mile for Hazmat runs and we also reimburse our drivers for up to $100 of the fees they incur when getting their Hazmat endorsement. Which means you’ll likely make pure profit on your first Hazmat haul with PAM and will be set up to earn more going forward.

To learn more about our Hazmat endorsement reimbursement program, visit our Career Advancement page. Or, email us at info@pamdrivingjobs.com.


Ready to Take the Wheel of Your Driving Career?
See Available Jobs