Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) are substances that have the potential to harm one’s health. These materials can also damage property and the environment. The danger hazardous materials pose means they require careful transportation.
Examples of hazardous materials include explosives, gases, radioactive materials, poisons, corrosive materials, and flammable or combustible liquids or solids. Because hazardous materials require special care, truck drivers who transport them need to obtain HAZMAT certification.
For truck drivers who want to know more, discover the answers to four frequently asked questions about HAZMAT certification.
How Do Truck Drivers Obtain HAZMAT Certification?
In order to obtain HAZMAT certification, a truck driver must first have their Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL). A Class A CDL allows truckers to drive tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, and tanker vehicles. Once a truck driver has their Class A CDL, they must meet certain requirements to obtain HAZMAT certification.
These requirements include being at least 21 years of age, providing proof of legal residence or citizenship, and completing a medical and eye exam. Truck drivers also need to pass a HAZMAT knowledge test. This written exam is available through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
The HAZMAT knowledge exam tests truck drivers on state and federal HAZMAT regulations and how to safely transport, load, and unload hazardous materials. The HAZMAT application fee usually costs between $80 and $110. The application process also includes a TSA background check that can take up to 60 days.
Criminal convictions that involve terrorism, espionage, violent crimes, and treason will disqualify an applicant from obtaining HAZMAT certification.
What Endorsements Do HAZMAT Truck Drivers Need?
For HAZMAT certification, truck drivers should acquire certain CDL endorsements:
- Hazardous materials endorsement. This endorsement shows up as an H on a truck driver’s license. The hazardous materials endorsement enables HAZMAT truck drivers to transport, load, and unload hazardous materials. All HAZMAT truck drivers are required to have this endorsement.
- Tank vehicle endorsement. This endorsement shows up as an N on the truck driver’s license. The tank vehicle endorsement enables HAZMAT truck drivers to operate a tank vehicle, which truck drivers use to transport hazardous materials, especially liquids and liquefied gases.
- Tanker/HAZMAT combo endorsement. This endorsement shows up as an X on a truck driver’s license. This combination endorsement allows truck drivers to transport HAZMAT materials and operate a tanker. This endorsement is highly recommended for all HAZMAT truck drivers.
Please note that truck drivers can apply for HAZMAT certification and their tanker endorsement at the same time, but they will need to take two different knowledge exams.
The tanker endorsement test consists of 20 to 30 questions. Some of the topics on the tanker endorsement test include how to safely haul tankers and how fast to drive on a curve with a tanker. The test will also quiz the applicant on their knowledge of baffles, bulkheads, and smooth bore tanks.
Do Truck Drivers Need to Renew HAZMAT Certification?
As with a CDL, truck drivers must renew their HAZMAT certification on a regular basis. In most states, truck drivers need to renew their certification before it expires, which is usually five years from the approval date.
If a truck driver does not renew their HAZMAT certification, they will no longer be able to transport hazardous materials. Truck drivers who renew HAZMAT certification need to submit new fingerprints to the TSA, which they usually need to do by appointment.
To renew HAZMAT certification, some states also require truck drivers to complete the knowledge test again.
How Much Money Do HAZMAT Truck Drivers Make?
A HAZMAT truck driver is one of the highest paid occupations in the trucking industry. The average pay for HAZMAT truck drivers in the United States is $61,982. Some HAZMAT truck drivers earn a salary of more than $70,000. The salary is dependent upon a variety of factors including:
- Additional skills
Truck drivers who obtain their tanker endorsement in addition to their HAZMAT certification have the potential to make the most money.
Besides having a good-paying job, HAZMAT drivers should not have a hard time finding work. According to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for HAZMAT drivers is expected to grow by 17 percent. This job growth is much faster than average compared to other occupations.
The most successful and highest-paying HAZMAT drivers understand all the laws and regulations pertaining to the transportation of hazardous materials. Successful HAZMAT truck drivers also pay close attention to detail, are always aware of the task at hand, are willing to enhance their driving skills, and learn safe driving techniques.
If you are a truck driver who is ready to begin your career as a HAZMAT owner/operator and all you need is a truck, contact Arrow Truck Sales. We make it easy and affordable for you to finance your next truck.