There are three options when getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL): the CDL A, the CDL B or the CDL C. Each class has its own training requirements and testing procedures, and there are pros and cons to explore for each type. Your lifestyle and career plans dictate which license will be the best fit for you. The Class A CDL is the most widely obtained CDL license, and here are the 6 types of endorsements you can get once you obtain a Class A CDL License.
The Basics of a Class A CDL
A Class A CDL endorsement usually opens the most job opportunities for a driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Association defines CDL A trucks as, “Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.”
Once you have your CDL A license, you can get additional endorsements to allow you drive more specialty vehicles. These endorsements require extra written and sometimes, skills testing to obtain the endorsements.
There are 6 Types of CDL Class A Endorsements
1. (H) Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)
A HAZMAT endorsement opens the doors to hauling hazardous materials over the road. These jobs are often higher paying and there is usually a larger pool of jobs available. Once you have your CDL A, you can obtain a HAZMAT endorsement following required TSA background checks, a written test, as well as a medical exam by a DOT doctor. In many cases having your HAZMAT license is a requirement for getting the X endorsement which will be described shortly.
2. (N) Tank Vehicle
The tank endorsement allows a driver to haul a tank or “tanker” full of liquid or gaseous materials. These jobs are often higher paying and usually are local or regional runs, so you’d have more home time than some other jobs. This endorsement does require an additional written test. A tanker truck driver needs to be able to adjust to having his cargo constantly moving around if the tank is not full. Dealing with the “surge” caused by the movement of the liquid in the tank while driving, does take some practice and skill development.
3. (P) Passenger Transport
Passenger transport endorsement is pretty straightforward. It allows a licensed driver to drive a vehicle which carries more than 16 passengers, like a city commuter bus. This endorsement requires an added written and skills test to obtain. These jobs are great for people who want to drive a set schedule and be home every night, or for seeing the country driving for travel companies across country. One thing is certain, you will interact with passengers all day long, so this is not the job for someone who likes being alone. This endorsement is usually required to subsequently obtain the S endorsement to drive children in a school bus. Usually the S & P endorsements go hand-in-hand.
4. (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport
School bus endorsements are required to drive children around in school busses. Like the P endorsement just discussed, this also requires an additional written and driving skills test. But for the S endorsement, there are also background checks, criminal history checks, physical fitness tests, and they usually require more frequent supplemental training and testing when the school bus rules change. And these drivers should have a little more patience and certainly must be able to tolerate driving boisterous children.
5. (T) Double/Triples
Double or triple trailers require their own endorsement. The T endorsement allows drivers to tow more than one trailer on the back of their truck. This endorsement requires an additional written test as well. The T endorsement allows a driver to haul twice or even three-times more freight, while driving the same amount of time over the road as with a single trailer. These are often higher-paying trucking jobs, due to the added skills and driving ability the driver needs to have.
6. (X) Tanker and Hazardous Materials
Finally, the X endorsement allows a driver to haul large loads of any type of liquid or gaseous HAZMAT cargo inside of a tanker. Having this X endorsement even further separates these drivers and their skill sets. This endorsement requires an additional written test. If a driver has any plans to be in the gas and oil hauling business, an X endorsement will certainly be required.
Regardless of the type of license and endorsements you pursue, you need to ensure that you are matched with the best fit job for you. If you’re a newly licensed professional truck driver looking for your first road job, or you’ve been driving for years, let Drive My Way help you get connected with the perfect job for you.
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