The hazardous materials endorsement is an endorsement that is added to a truck driver’s commercial drivers license, allowing a truck driver to transport material deemed to be hazardous. Is it a necessary endorsement? That would depend on your interpretations of the word ‘necessary’.
If you look at what is deemed to be a hazardous material, then you may rethink that interpretation. In general terms, hazardous relates to any material which, if released into the environment, could cause significant damage to life or vegetation. This then includes flammable substances, poisons, radioactive materials, and many household substances which, in volume, could cause problems – for example, household bleach. Explosives are also included as a hazardous material, for obvious reasons. Other substances considered hazardous include every day products like organic fuels, petroleum products, fertilizers, and pesticides for farms.
Truck drivers cannot transport any of these items unless they hold a hazardous materials endorsement. Because of the dangers involved with the transport of these products, obtaining a HazMat endorsement is not a simple task. You will need to pass a written knowledge test then pass both a criminal and national security check. Obviously, we don’t want those who are considered a national security risk to be legally transporting explosives.
Because of the wide range of products deemed to be hazardous, not holding a hazardous materials endorsement could severely restrict your truck driving career. The more options you have, the wider the range of jobs that are available to you. For most truck drivers, a hazardous materials endorsement is a must – not an option that should be brushed aside easily. The best time to get any endorsement is when you first get your drivers license since you can undertake any training whilst undertaking your truck driver training.