How to Obtain Your Hazmat Endorsement

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Although truck driving jobs that involve hauling hazardous materials (HazMat) pay well and are in high demand, federal government clearance is first necessary and can be difficult to obtain.

Prior to the tragedy of 9/11, trucking laws pertaining to commercial vehicles that transport flammable gases, toxic substances, and other volatile materials existed, but were not nearly as strict as they are today.

Now drivers are mandated to meet numerous requirements and complete several steps in order to obtain a specialized HazMat endorsement, as outlined below.

1. You must already possess a valid Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in good standing before you can be considered for HazMat approval.

2. Do not submit your application until you make sure that your background does not include any prison time served in the prior 5 years, no convictions relating to serious criminal acts in the past 7 years, nor any findings of not guilty by reason of insanity or you risk denial and loss of any fees paid.

3. You will need to visit your local bureau of motor vehicles and successfully pass a HazMat examination that assesses your competency in handling cargo materials considered to be hazardous.

4. Request the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) HazMat application also at your state motor vehicle department. Complete all questions regarding proof of identity, CDL trucking status, and legal residence.

5. You will need to be fingerprinted, typically by the TSA or their agent, and will be charged a fee which averages approximately $100 to cover the cost of processing the paperwork and performing a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check.

According to the Patriot Act, a HazMat endorsement cannot be issued to a driver by any state without a completed threat assessment and federal approval. A temporary CDL may be provided for new truck drivers while government security clearance is being obtained, after which time a HazMat designation will be added to the reverse side of the driver's license denoted by an “H” or an “X.”

With a shortage of haulers who are qualified to transport hazardous materials due to the tougher restrictions, those CDL drivers who are able to satisfy the more stringent requirements may find themselves landing one of the many excellent paying HazMat truck driving jobs with some of the most lucrative benefits available in the trucking industry.

View the official TSA website for further information on Hazmat Clearance.

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