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Want to Become a CDL HAZMAT Driver? Here’s What You Should Know

A driver behind the steering wheel giving the camera a thumbs up.

So you’ve got your commercial driver's license, but you’re not certain what to do next. Or maybe you’re a seasoned driver but your career has seemingly gone stagnant.

Getting endorsements is a great way to open your driving career to new opportunities. Here’s all the information you need about the CDL HAZMAT endorsement.

HAZMAT driver's responsibilities

Transport

HAZMAT drivers are drivers responsible for transporting dangerous goods. These hazardous materials (HAZMAT), could be dangerous to people, animals, and the environment. These materials can include explosives, corrosive, and radioactive material, poisonous gas, compressed gasses, etc.

Being a commercial driver is a low-supervision job, so drivers can expect to have a certain level of punctuality. This is amplified with some HAZMAT shipping. Due to the dangerous nature of HAZMAT, shipping must happen on time.

Although there are other responsibilities HAZMAT drivers may have, transportation is the bulk of the responsibility.

Handle

Transporting dangerous goods is a very important job. Understanding how the materials are to be treated and the protocol in case of emergencies is paramount and could save lives.

Some HAZMAT jobs require drivers to wear HAZMAT suits and load and unload their trucks. It’s important to know the standard procedure for these duties, but it is rare for a driver to not be instructed by the company on how to properly handle specific HAZMAT.

Drivers need to know how to handle dangerous goods, but it is not always a part of the job. Some Jobs are “no-touch” for drivers, meaning drivers are not required to help load or unload.

A HAZMAT sign.

HAZMAT Driver Salary

Now that you understand what CDL HAZMAT drivers do, let’s talk about what a CDL HAZMAT salary might look like.

Higher Paying Jobs

Getting a HAZMAT endorsement does not guarantee a pay increase, but it does allow for more job opportunities. It’s important to remember that it is illegal to drive HAZMAT jobs without your CDL HAZMAT endorsement.

There’s no doubt about it, transporting HAZMAT is dangerous. The good news is, the added danger is reflected by higher pay.

When looking at the average salary of drivers, HAZMAT drivers make an average of 10k more a year than average CDL drivers. If driving for Snider Trucking, for example, HAZMAT drivers can make up to 85k a year.

There’s more to consider concerning CDL HAZMAT's salary. If you want more information, check out our blog on the highest-paying HAZMAT careers.

Types of Jobs

Like all CDL jobs, there are many different kinds of jobs for driving HAZMAT.

OTR

OTR, or over the road, is a type of job classification. This classification requires the longest amount of distance to drive and also the longest time away from home.

Over-the-road drivers spend most of their time on the road but are paid substantially more. OTR drivers should expect to be on the road weeks at a time, and they spend about 1 day at home for every week on the road.

Illustration of a HAZMAT vehicle and a map.

Regional

Regional jobs still require a lot of time away, but not as much as OTR jobs. These shorter-distance drives are locked to specific regions. Southwest, northwest, midwest, etc.

Regional CDL HAZMAT jobs are a good in-between job type when considering the length of travel for a CDL job.

Local

Local jobs require the least distance traveled, and pay less, but allow for the most time at home. These kinds of jobs may involve doing routine transportation of HAZMAT such as hazardous waste.

There are a lot of different kinds of HAZMAT jobs. You could drive a tanker filled with gas, deliver explosives to a mine a couple of hours outside your town, or even drop off nuclear waste. There’s a plethora of opportunities only available to those with their HAZMAT endorsement.

Training Requirements

All this may sound familiar, but how do you get your HAZMAT endorsement? The steps are much more simple than you might think.

  • Pass the test

  • Submit and complete the TSA Threat Assessment

ADOT Test

The first step in getting your HAZMAT endorsement is to take the ADOT (or local equivalent) Hazardous Materials test. This 30-question test covers everything in the Commercial Driver License Hazardous Materials Manual.

If you’re having a hard time knowing where to start in your studying journey, we recommend taking our HAZMAT endorsement training course.

TSA Threat Assessment

Every driver who drives hazardous materials must have a TSA threat assessment. You can start that application online or you can do the entire application process in person at an application center.

After filling out your application you must visit an application center to give proof of identification and pay the appropriate fees.

A man working on a laptop indoors.

Additional CDL HAZMAT Training

After receiving your endorsement, you still may have some training to complete.

Company-Specific Training

Some companies require their drivers to take part in their own training programs. This is dependent on individual companies and is not required by law. This optional training would take place after you accept a job offer, so not much to worry about now.

Tanker Endorsement

It’s a smart idea to get your tanker endorsement alongside your HAZMAT endorsement. HAZMAT jobs such as transporting gasoline will require you to have your tanker endorsement. So getting this endorsement will help you stand out when searching for HAZMAT jobs.

Stand Out

If you already have your CDL or if you plan on being a driver, getting your HAZMAT endorsement is a great way to unlock opportunities and stand out amongst the crowd. check out our 4-week self-paced course to learn everything you need to pass the test and start your journey into expanding your CDL career.

Home LinkThe BWS is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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