If you intend undertaking truck driver training with the aim of obtaining a commercial drivers license (CDL), then you need to consider which endorsements you’ll need to help you build your career. Endorsements are special features of a CDL that effectively give you permission to drive special trucks or to carry special loads. The most common CDL endorsement is the HazMat, or hazardous materials, endorsement. While the term ‘hazardous’ may put many off, it shouldn’t, since even standard household products come under this provision if carried in quantity. The term ‘hazardous’ relates as much to environmental issues as it does to personal health issues.
Your commercial drivers license can carry the following endorsements:
- T – Double/Triple Trailers Endorsement
- N – Tank Vehicle Endorsement
- H – Hazardous Materials Endorsement
- X – Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials Endorsement
There are also endorsements available for vehicles that carry passengers, such as buses. To receive an endorsement, you will need to complete a special knowledge test that demonstrates you know the regulations associated with each endorsement. The hazardous materials endorsement will also require a special integrity check by homeland security before it can be finally awarded.
The best time to acquire these endorsements is when you are completing the requirements for your commercial drivers license. You should also make every attempt to undertake your practical driving test in a vehicle that has been fitted with air brakes. If you undertake your practical driving test in a vehicle that has not been fitted with air brakes, you will be issued with a commercial drivers license that includes an air brake restriction – this could severely limit your future truck driving opportunities.
To give yourself the best chance of a long and successful career as a truck driver, make sure you get as many endorsements as possible whilst not limiting yourself with an air brake restriction. A good truck driver training school will help you obtain the necessary endorsements. Just check before signing up for training.