Many doors will open once you receive your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Even more open for truck drivers who get one or more CDL endorsements. You can’t drive certain commercial vehicles without them.
What Are CDL Endorsements?
CDL Endorsements are additional tests that allow commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to operate specific vehicles.
There are six types of endorsements:
H – Hazardous Material Endorsement
If you transport hazardous materials in quantities that require placarding under Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements, you must obtain this endorsement.
Earning this endorsement requires passing a written knowledge test. You will also have to renew the endorsement every two years and pass the written test again.
What’s more, you must undergo a background check, which means going to a fingerprinting site run by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). You do not have to take a road test, however.
N – Tank Vehicle Endorsement
A tanker endorsement lets you transport non-hazardous gases or liquids, such as milk, water, or compressed air. A written test is all that’s needed for the endorsement.
X – Tanker/Hazardous Material Endorsement
This is a combination of the H and N endorsements. If you want to carry hazardous material in volumes of 1,000 gallons or more, you’ll need the X endorsement.
T – Double/Triple Endorsement
This endorsement lets you tow multiple trailers, such as doubles or triples. You see these most often with FedEx and UPS. Triple trailers are also more common in western states. Passing a written test is all that’s needed for this endorsement.
P – Passenger Endorsement
If you operate a vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver), you’ll have to get the CDL Passenger vehicle endorsement. It requires a road skills test, written test, and background check.
S – School Bus Endorsement
You will need the school bus endorsement to transport any pre-primary, primary, or secondary students between home and school, school and home, or to and from school-sponsored events. You have to get a P endorsement first, then take a written test, a skills test in a vehicle similar to the kind you will operate, and pass a background check.
CDL Class Types
The type of endorsement you qualify for depends on the class of CDL you have. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists three classes: A, B, and C.
Class A CDL drivers can get all six endorsements. Class B CDL holders have access to all endorsements except T – double/triple. Class C CDL holders can receive H, P, and S endorsements.
Which CDL Endorsements Pay the Most?
Generally, a Class A CDL with a tanker, double and triple trailers, or hazmat endorsement pays the most. That’s because there is a greater danger associated with hauling these loads or pulling multiple trailers, which are more vulnerable to high winds.
You should have all the information you need to understand CDL endorsements and the requirements to obtain each. But you may have other questions, like what does a CDL cost, how you go about getting a CDL license, or what’s involved in becoming a truck driver.