So you’d like a career driving trucks. It’s a fairly straightforward process. It only takes five weeks of dedicated truck driver training and the successful completion of both the theory and practical commercial drivers license (CDL) tests. Unfortunately for new graduates, trucks come in many shapes and sizes, so deciding on which trucking career is best can be difficult.
The confusion doesn’t stop there. Different types of trucks may require special licensing conditions. These are referred to as endorsements because your license is “endorsed” (using a single letter of alphabet) to signify your right to drive those vehicles. One of the most common endorsements is the hazardous materials or HazMat endorsement. As the name suggests, this gives you the right to drive trucks that are carrying items that are considered hazardous and your license would include an “H” endorsement. Other CDL endorsements include:
- T – Double/Triple Trailers Endorsement
- P – Passenger Endorsement
- N – Tank Vehicle Endorsement
- X – Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials Endorsement
- S – School Bus Endorsement
There is a second type of endorsement that can be applied. This is an endorsement that restricts what a truck driver can do. The most common endorsement in this category the the air brake endorsement. If you fail the air brake part of the CDL test, or undertake your practical test in a truck that is not fitted with air brakes, then you may have your licensed endorsed to show that you are not permitted to drive trucks fitted with air brakes.
Endorsements on a commercial drivers license are important if you want a long and fruitful career as a truck driver. The types of endorsement included on your license will determine what trucks you can and cannot drive, and the types of cargo you can haul. When looking at truck driving as a career, be sure to check that your truck driver training school includes training that will help you acquire the endorsement necessary for your chosen field.