Why it pays to add endorsements to your CDL-A
It’s no secret that a valid commercial driver’s license — particularly a Class A CDL — can open the door to multiple professional opportunities. But adding endorsements to your CDL-A allows you to haul specific types of freight, expanding your career options and boosting your earning potential. Get an overview of the CDL-A endorsements professional drivers can acquire and learn how to make them work for you.
Did you know? A CDL-A is the most common commercial license issued and is required for all heavy truck drivers, bus drivers and couriers. CDLs are divided into three classes — A, B and C — according to vehicle type and gross commercial weight rating (GVWR).
Elevate your status with these endorsements
CDL-A holders can broaden their skills and enhance their marketability with advanced knowledge in the following areas:
H (Hazardous Materials)
Drivers with a hazardous materials (or HAZMAT) endorsement are authorized to move potentially dangerous materials — like gas and oil —labeled with a placard. These drivers often earn more because of the high demand for their services. Candidates must pass a written test, a medical exam and a TSA background check.
N (Tanker Vehicles)
With an N endorsement, drivers can operate any vehicle with a tank (temporary or permanent) attached to it. Tanker trucks typically contain liquids like gas, chemicals, milk or water but can also hold bulk dry goods. This requires a written test, and tanker jobs are usually local or regional, which means more home time.
X (Combination of Tanker and Hazmat)
An X endorsement is commonly required for drivers who want to work in the oil, agriculture, waste management and construction industries. Drivers must pass an additional written test to qualify for pulling large tanker loads of HAZMAT material, including gas, fertilizers and medical waste.
T (Doubles and Triples)
This endorsement, which requires an additional written test, allows drivers to haul multiple trailers (where allowed by law). This advanced skill means moving two to three times the freight in the same time frame as someone pulling a single trailer, which can bring higher-paying opportunities.
Note: Endorsements for passenger vehicles (P) and school bus transport (S) are also available for CDL-A holders.
How do I get them?
If you already have your CDL-A, the process begins in the state where you live:
- Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State office to make a testing appointment
- Pay the fee
- Complete the knowledge exam
- Schedule and pass a road skills test
- Receive your new CDL — updated with your new endorsement — in the mail
The local officials in charge of processing endorsements can answer specific questions or clarify any requirements.
When can I get them?
Because there aren’t requirements on how much experience you have to have, you can get endorsements as soon as you have your CDL and can pass the tests. If you have your CLP (commercial learners permit), you can get the N, S and P endorsements.
When do they expire?
CDL endorsements expire at the same time your CDL does. In many cases, you’ll need to retake any required tests.
Do they transfer between states?
If you’re looking to get a CDL in a new state, your endorsements likely won’t be transferrable since each state has its own CDL processes. Some states may have reduced requirements and fees if you have a current endorsement code on your license, but you’ll need to verify that with the new state’s licensing office.
Do I have to get an H endorsement if I have my TWIC?
Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) cards are required for drivers who will access shipping ports and other maritime facilities and are not a replacement for an H endorsement. However, many states offer a reduced HAZMAT endorsement fee for TWIC holders because they won’t have to redo your background check.
Drive for ArcBest and get more out of your skills
Among the benefits of driving for a trusted industry leader like ArcBest is having access to a stable and diverse customer network. Our thousands of unique shipment opportunities daily require highly skilled professional drivers to ensure safe and timely delivery. It’s a great way to capitalize on your endorsements. Explore all the ways you can drive for ArcBest, earn a good living and build a satisfying career.