When training to gain a commercial drivers license (CDL), one of the options available to you is a Hazmat (hazardous materials) endorsement. This is a special endorsement on your license that authorizes you to transport hazardous materials. Many students question the need for this endorsement, the suggestion being they have no intention of transporting hazardous materials.
This is where there can be confusion. As a prospective truck driving student, you are probably not aware of what constitutes ‘hazardous materials’. Normal everyday household items can fall into the category of hazardous materials, if they are being transported in large quantities. The term ‘hazardous’ is not restricted to the effect it may have on humans; it also relates to how substances affect the general environment. A truck load of household bleach, for example, could be devastating to a local environment if there was a large spill – more so if it found its way into the waterways.
As a prospective truck driver, you just don’t know what type of goods you are going to be transporting. It’s actually easier and more convenient to obtain CDL endorsements when you first obtain your license than it is later on in life. The Hazmat endorsement requires the successful completion of a written knowledge test. The knowledge required is gained during your truck driver training, so the best time to sit this test is whilst it’s still fresh in your memory – not years down the track when your memory is not as good.
Do you really need a CDL Hazmat endorsement? That is up to you, however, the more endorsements you have, the more employable you are. That’s a fairly basic equation. Furthermore, these endorsements are available as part of your truck driver training, so why not make the most of them. If you never use one or more of those endorsements, you’ve lost nothing really. If you do need a particular endorsement, and you failed to acquire it, it could cost you further opportunities.