Spotlight on Hazmat Certification

Every aspiring big rig operator needs to earn a commercial driving license (CDL). With a CDL, you’ll be qualified to drive most of the big vehicles out there. But some drivers specialize, which gives them even more options. A specialization is known as an endorsement, and one of the endorsements you could earn is your hazmat certification.

Background Check

The U.S. PATRIOT Act requires potential CDL drivers to undergo a background check. This applies to you if you plan to apply for the hazmat endorsement. To complete the background check, you’ll need to visit an application center of the Transportation Security Administration. Bring the required paperwork, and a current U.S. passport or your birth certificate and driver’s license. You can also expect to pay a fee and have your fingerprints taken.


Not everyone is qualified to earn the hazmat endorsement. You can apply if you’re a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or naturalized citizen. If you have a CDL issued in the U.S., you can also apply if you’re a nonimmigrant alien, asylee, or refugee with lawful status. Note that some criminal convictions will disqualify you from seeking a hazmat endorsement.

Written Exam

Before you’re qualified to transport hazardous materials, you must pass a written exam. The specifics can vary from state to state, so if you’re taking the exam in Arizona, make sure you study the manual for that state. Before taking the exam, you should understand these main concept areas:

  • Hazardous material classes and types
  • Hazmat signage, package labels, and documentation
  • Specific hazards (inhalation, etc.)
  • The Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest
  • Identifying risks
  • Environmental risk management (not allowing smoking near cargo, etc.)
  • Identifying leaks
  • Route restrictions
  • Loading guidelines

You should also understand emergency protocols before you sit for the written exam.

Choose from multiple program options at HDS Truck Driving Institute, including a comprehensive training program that includes the Hazmat endorsement. Get started building your new career today! Call our office in Tucson at (877) 205-2141.

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