If you are serious about your truck driving career or you are looking on ways to make more money, then you will want to look in to earning one or more CDL endorsements. Much like certifications in other occupations, endorsements provide proof that you have attained the right knowledge and skills to work in specialty niches. The best part for truck drivers is that endorsements can not only make you more valuable for any company you work but also can offer you higher paychecks.
On this page we will take a quick look at the various CDL endorsements that can led to greater mobility and higher pay. We will discuss the different types of endorsements and how you go about getting them. Just a word of advice, you can earn a number of these endorsements at the completion of your training at truck driver school.
Types of CDL Endorsements
There are currently six different CDL endorsements for you to consider. Believe it or not, endorsements are quite easy to get, if you have paid attention in class or studied the material. Unlike your normal CDL exam, most of these endorsements will not require you to take a driving test, so you’ve got that going for you.
Take note, the information on this page concerns national endorsements. There are some state specific endorsements such as tow truck driving in New York. It is best to contact your state DMV for the list of CDL endorsements and regulations in your home state.
Known as the “T” endorsement, a double/triple trailer endorsement allows you to be able to drive multiple trailers at one time. Typically drivers with a T can earn anywhere from 2 to 3 times the amount of a single trailer driver. This is mainly due to the fact that you are carrying 2 to 3 times more cargo. This is a great way for drivers who do not want to deal with the dangers of tankers or hauling HAZMAT materials to make money.
To be able to include this CDL endorsement on your license, you will need to pass a knowledge test. This test can be difficult if you do not study for it. However, most of the information you will need to know is readily available in your state CDL guide.
Take note: Not all states allow multiple trailer vehicles within their state lines. States like New Hampshire outlaw triple trailers. It is best to contact your state Department of Transportation for details on legality of driving a multi-trailer vehicle in your state.
Going by the symbol of “N” on your CDL, this endorsement legally allows the holder to operate trucks that haul tanker trailers carrying liquid or gas materials. Some truckers will stay away from tankers due to the awkward weight of the trailer which can make driving more complicated and dangerous.
As you may have guessed, since so many drivers refuse to driver tankers, this can create a profitable and stable job if you are up to the task. The need to transport gases and liquids is big business that is expected to continue to grow over the next decade or so. The opportunity is there for anyone who believes they have the skill and knowledge to do the job right.
Like most CDL endorsements, anyone looking to add the tanker endorsement (N) to their resume will need to pass a knowledge test. This test, like all the others in the trucking world can be easy or difficult depending on your preparation. The information for the test can be found in your state’s CDL manual but we also suggest a practice or study guide to help you pass it.
Typically known as the HAZMAT or “H” endorsement, this will allow you to legally haul materials that are considered hazardous to humans or the environment according to federal or state regulations. This include items like explosives, toxic waste and other dangerous materials that require the vehicle to be placarded for safety. Due to the danger usually associated with the type of cargo being hauled, an “H” endorsed driver can expect to see high wages and steady employment.
If you are looking to really solidify your position and high pay potential, you may want to pair the HAZMAT endorsement with the Tanker endorsement. This is considered by most as the highest paying in the trucking industry.
In order to receive the H CDL endorsement, drivers are required to complete the following:
- Provide proof of your full legal name
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship or you have legal permanent standing in the U.S.
- Pass the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) criminal background check
- Pass a knowledge test
The “X” endorsement is one of the top CDL endorsements in demand today. This allows the holder to drive a tanker carrying HAZMAT materials such as gasoline or chemicals. As you might guess, the combination of the awkwardness of the trailer along with the dangerous cargo means that pay for these jobs can be incredible.
Remember this endorsement can lead to jobs that are not for the faint of heart. You will need to know to drive safely and have the fortitude to be confident on the roads. If you are up to the challenge and want to become part of the most sought after of all endorsement bearers, then you will need to pass both the H and the N endorsement knowledge tests.
Get your mind out of the gutter. If carrying cargo doesn’t excite you, there are CDL endorsements for transporting people such as the “P” endorsement for passenger vehicles. A passenger vehicle according to state and federal regulations is any vehicle that is designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver. As you might guess, safety is at the top of the list for these drivers due to the type of human cargo they are transporting. This CDL endorsement can be very lucrative for those in the right positions or areas.
Unlike most of the other endorsements, you will need to complete both a knowledge exam and a skills test. The information for all of this can be found in your state’s CDL manual from the DMV.
The “S” CDL endorsement is a continuation of the “P” passenger vehicle endorsement. However, the emphasis is on school buses rather than other types of passenger vehicles. You will need to have your “P” before you can get your “S” – or at least you have to get them around the same time.
Typically the jobs for this particular CDL endorsement are driving school buses for a school corporation. You will most likely have to pass a criminal background check to get a job such as this. The requirements are really up to the employers.
The testing for the “S” is much like the “P” in regards to content. You will need to pass both a knowledge test and a skills demonstration test. It is best to check with your state’s DMV for any details or restrictions they may have in order to be able to get the “S”.
So What Do You Think?
As previously mentioned, your state might have some other CDL endorsements not listed here. You can get a complete list by contacting your state’s Department of Transportation or the local DMV. The choice is up to you.
As you can gather, CDL endorsements can greatly enhance your position and bargaining potential when it comes to jobs. In our opinion, it doesn’t matter if you are going to drive a truck for your whole career or if you have other aspirations, CDL endorsements can make your truck driving days profitable. Don’t miss some opportunities because you don’t want to take another test… CDL endorsements are well worth their while!