Hazardous materials are all around us. It takes specialized training to move these items whether they are gasoline, medical waste, weaponry or another type of dangerous material. To see that this material is handled correctly and that it does not fall into the hands of someone who will use it illegally, states have set up specialized endorsements for your commercial driver's license to demonstrate that you are trained in these key areas. Getting a HAZMAT endorsement takes time and money, but it opens career doors.
Know the Testing Requirements
You must first have a commercial driver's license or a permit in your home state in order to take the HAZMAT endorsement test. You are also required to either be a U.S. citizen or a documented non-immigrant alien, asylee, or refugee who can legally work in the United States. Your CDL must be in good standing and you cannot have a disqualifying criminal offense as determined by your state. Other requirements include that you have no disqualifying physical, mental or psychological disorders and that you are not listed as one who poses a threat to national or transportation security.
Clear TSA Threat Assessments
The Transportation Security Administration created the Threat Assessment portion of your HAZMAT endorsement as a provision of the USA Patriot Act enacted after 9/11. This provision requires you to get an FBI fingerprint criminal background check, to renew this portion of the endorsement every five years and to report any changes in your eligibility. You will need proof of identity, proof of legal residency and your CDL in order to pass the threat assessment.
Understand the Dangers
Once cleared by the TSA to be eligible, you must demonstrate that you are thoroughly familiar with handling and moving hazardous materials in the way your state requires. This is typically completed through a written test at your local department of motor vehicles. Washington state, for example, requires that you take the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge Test and renew your license each year on your birthday. Visit your local DMV to get the studying resources for this knowledge test typically included in your state's CDL drivers manual. This study material includes comprehensive information about moving hazardous materials and may include sample questions to familiarize you with your state's test.
Get Comfortable with the Tests
While your CDL driver's manual will have all of the material in it that you will be responsible for when testing, consider alternative test preparation. Some trucking companies offer HAZMAT training courses either on-site or at a local trade school or community college, especially if HAZMAT transportation is in demand in its area. Consult experienced HAZMAT drivers and newly endorsed ones for test-taking study tips so you are prepared for your state's testing emphasis. Your local library may also have study materials for your test, but be sure the publication date is current, as the tests change, and that the book covers the relevant material for your state. Internet practice tests are also useful with the same disclaimer.