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What are some endorsements you can add to a CDL?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which implements safety programs and monitors commercial drivers, requires anyone who desires to drive a commercial vehicle for a living to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To pass the CDL exam, a driver must schedule an exam in his or her own state and demonstrate a wide range of both skills and knowledge. You can also add endorsements to your CDL. We’ll explain what those are.

What is a CDL endorsement?

Obtaining an endorsement on your CDL means that you have demonstrated you possess specific abilities by passing a skills test and written exam in that area. Earning an endorsement helps you to stand out in a competitive work environment and may help you advance in your career faster. Please note that you will need to pay a small licensing fee when you apply for a CDL endorsement.

Most common types of CDL endorsements.

Once a driver receives a CDL, he or she must take care to drive extremely safely since people with this license must meet higher standards than those with a typical driver’s license. If you have a serious traffic violation or cause an accident, the FMCSA can rescind your CDL either permanently or temporarily. Additionally, a driver will need to apply for a special endorsement if he or she intends to drive any of these types of vehicles:

  • Air Brake: You only need to take this endorsement exam if you failed the part of your CDL exam covering air brakes or you took your test in a vehicle not equipped with air brakes. You can expect questions about safety measures, how to conduct an inspection of your air brakes, and air brake components.
  • School Bus/Passenger: Some truck drivers also drive school buses or passenger vans to supplement their income while others want the endorsement in case they decide to leave trucking. You will take a passenger test and then a school bus test, both which require you to pass written and skills portions. Typical topics include safe loading and unloading of passengers, handling emergencies, and using the vehicle’s safety devices properly.
  • Trucks carrying hazardous materials: Hazmat endorsement requires you to complete a TSA background check and pass a written exam. Topics covered include safety practices, loading and unloading, and hazmat regulations.
  • Tankers: Some drivers choose to get both a tanker and hazmat endorsement if they typically carry hazardous materials in their tank. Topics on the endorsement exam include tanker truck components, inspection of tanker trucks, and maneuvering a tanker truck safely. If you pass the exams for both hazardous materials and tanker trucks, the FMCSA will issue an X endorsement on your CDL indicating your double endorsement.
  • Trucks with double or triple trailers: This requires only a written exam that covers handling rollovers, driving under adverse conditions, and coupling and uncoupling. Be sure to check with your state if you’re interested in a triple trailer endorsement as it’s not legal in all states.

These are some of the endorsements you can consider for your CDL.

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