Is a HAZMAT Truck Driving Job for You?
Most CDL truck drivers are familiar with HAZMAT driving – transporting loads containing hazardous materials. According to IHMM, the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management, HAZMAT substances are anything which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals or the environment. This can be the substance itself or its interaction with other factors. The institute’s list of HAZMAT substances includes explosives, gases, poisons and corrosive materials, and the public is surrounded by them all the time in everyday life. Examples of HAZMAT substances range from cleaning products to radioactive materials used in hospitals. Human and animal substances are considered hazardous materials, as are battery acids.
It would be easy to assume that with an abundance of HAZMAT materials to transport in commercial vehicles, there would be plenty of commercial truck drivers to haul the loads. Afterall, a HAZMAT endorsement can lead to higher paying truck driving jobs.In actuality, manyCDL truck drivers prefer not to undergo the training that’s required to gain the “H” endorsement or the stress of being a HAZMAT truck driver.
So, is it worth your while to haul HAZMAT truck loads? Well, first, consider what the driving job entails. HAZMAT CDL drivers are experienced truck drivers who have more extensive driver training to not only deliver the toxic truck loads but also to handle and dispose of them properly. Good judgement is essential to this kind of driving job. HAZMAT truck drivers must plan their routes based on the materials they’re carrying, such as time-sensitive substances. A HAZMAT CDL driver must also consider weather and road conditions, traffic, or population and truck routes.HAZMAT truck drivers are required to be diligent recordkeepers. First-aid training and certification are not only a smart choice for safety but also make a truck driver more attractive to trucking companies.
Many hazardous materials are transported in tankers, so truck drivers will also obtain a tanker (N) endorsement, which requires a separate test. The other option is the “X” combined HAZMAT/tanker endorsement.
The requirements for a HAZMAT endorsement are, of course, more stringent. A background check by the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) is required and can average 60 days to be completed. In addition, there are minimum driver requirements for age and citizenship, and certain criminal offenses are cause for disqualification for an H-endorsement.
With all of that said, HAZMAT truck drivers are very important to society and the trucking companies that hire them. The job of transporting, handling and disposing of dangerous materials keeps the rest of us safe. For this reason, HAZMAT truck driving is one of the highest paid positions that doesn’t require higher education. The number of HAZMAT truck driving jobs is expected to continue to grow, adding almost 4,000 driving jobs by 2024. That high demand, along with lucrative driver pay, makes adding a HAZMAT endorsement to your CDL license worth serious consideration.