How To Obtain Your CDL Endorsements
If you want to get the most out of your CDL training, get all the additional endorsements you can. These endorsements are generally given out by the state DMV so check with your particular state for exact details but most involve a written knowledge test. Some have additional requirements. A good truck driver training school will prepare you for getting your endorsements and offer some during training. Make sure you discuss what you are interested in pursuing while you are in school so you have a head start on the process.
Why get all of the endorsements? Because if you take the tests right out of training or during training the information is fresh in your mind. Having an endorsement for passengers, for instance, means you can pick up a lucrative short-term shuttle job if you want. Having your HAZMAT endorsement without having a tank endorsement means you can’t do that job if the hazardous materials are in a tank vehicle. It’s simple: be qualified for as much as possible and more jobs are available.
Imagine what type of jobs are available for CDL drivers who have obtained these endorsements:
- H – Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) requires a written knowledge test and a security clearance from the TSA saying you aren’t a threat.
- N – Tank vehicles requires a written knowledge test. It the load is liquid, it’s going to be in a tank. Liquid loads act different, so you need to prove you know how to handle them.
- X – Combination HAZMAT/tank. That’s two tests and clearance for a future with lots of possibilities.
- T – Double or triple trailer. Involves an additional knowledge test. Think how many multiple trailers you see on the highway and you can see that not having this one limits you.
- P – Allows a number of passengers determined by the state. Requires a written knowledge test and pass a road skills test. This one lets you take that part-time holiday shuttle job.
- S – School bus drivers must have passed a written knowledge test and a road skills test. Both the P and S endorsements often involve separate application forms, background checks, and fees required by your state.
Other helpful endorsements are Air Brakes and Interstate. The Interstate endorsement is a federal requirement with an age requirement of 21 or older. Air brakes are on a lot of trucks, so having this endorsement makes you more employable.
Talk to your DMV about their requirements for CDL endorsements. Truck driver training schools should be assessed by their willingness to include endorsements in their options or prepare you to take the pertinent tests as soon as possible. Plan on the extra time the security clearance will take (usually a month) and see if you can start the process while you are in school. That way you can graduate and get on the road immediately!