Gaining a commercial drivers license (CDL) is not that difficult. However, in order to get a good job you will also need to obtain several CDL endorsements. Endorsements indicate you are legally entitled to drive certain trucks, and to carry certain materials. The hardest endorsement to get is the hazardous materials endorsement, also known as the HazMat endorsement.
Wikipedia defines hazardous materials as:
solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment.
Because of the danger involved in transporting these items, the HazMat endorsement has two very clear and distinct requirements. The first is evidence that you are aware of the safety requirements for transporting hazardous materials. This is done through a CDL HazMat test.
The second component relates to security – applicants are assessed for security issues. Checks are done at both state and federal level for any previous criminal history that may make the applicant ineligible for this endorsement. In most cases, there is a seven year statute of limitations in place, however, some states impose their own. For example, in New York it is ten years plus any time spent incarcerated. You will need to check what time lines are in place in your own state. Crimes such as espionage and treason are not covered by this limitation.
Applicants will also need to pass a Homeland Security security threat assessment. Once these checks have been completed, the applicant is sent a new photo license with the appropriate endorsements noted. If the applicant fails any of the assessments, they will be sent their photo license without the HazMat endorsement.
If you don’t intend carrying hazardous materials, then you will not need to go through this process.