When undertaking training for a commercial drivers license, a student has the option of adding several ‘endorsements’ to their license. An ‘endorsement’ is an extension of the license that permits a driver to carry special loads or drive special vehicles. The hazardous materials endorsement (also known as a HazMat endorsement), is required when ever a driver has a hazardous material on board on their truck.
Endorsements generally require extra training and require extra work when it comes to acquiring a CDL. The hazardous materials endorsement is one that can only be obtained if a student passes the written test, and then passes a special security check. Understandably, if a truck driver is carrying explosives, we all want to be sure the driver is honest and trustworthy.
Do you need a hazardous materials endorsement? That’s a question that only you can answer. In general, a hazardous materials endorsement is a ‘nice to have’ endorsement. Many truck drivers work their whole lives without ever carrying any hazardous materials. However, should their employer have a requirement for a HazMat endorsed driver, not having that endorsement means you wont meet the requirement. You could say that a HazMat endorsement does open up employment options a little more.
Endorsements are not compulsory – you only really need them if you are going to be working in those areas. Hazardous materials are everywhere today and it’s difficult to say if you’ll ever need the endorsement. When looking at options like a hazardous materials endorsement, rather than asking if you need one, turn the question around. Is there a need to not have one? Would you be disadvantaged if you didn’t have one. The answer to the latter is often yes, you could be at a disadvantage.