Hazmat drivers or Hazard Material truck drivers can command upwards of $90,000 per year. According to Job Network.com Hazmat truck drivers are among the top two well-paid truck drivers, competing right up there with liquid tanker drivers such as gasoline. Indeed.com, a national job finder website, recently posted over 2,000 Hazmat trucker openings, so drivers with a Hazmat certificate are in the catbird seat, finding both long-haul and local or regional hazmat driver jobs are quite easy to locate.
What are Hazmat Materials?
There are nine classes of hazardous materials transported by truck drivers:
- Flammable Gases
- Flammable Liquids
- Flammable Solids
- Organic Peroxides
- Toxic and Infectious Substances Toxic and infectious substances are also considered dangerous goods, they
- Radioactive Substances
- Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods
All nine categories have extensive safety requirements that are set by the federal government through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and must be religiously followed by Hazmat truck driving firms, drivers and manufacturers of dangerous chemicals.
How do you become a Hazmat driver?
Potential Hazmat drivers obtain a Class A Hazmat endorsement through the state that issued their Class A license. When seeking a Hazmat endorsement, potential drivers must submit proof of US citizenship or proof of being a lawful permanent resident having the legal right to work in the country, and a birth certificate.
Other requirements include proof of medical fitness, any medical waivers, passing a vision test, and successful passage of a Hazardous materials test. You must also have two years of class A truck driving experience under your belt.
Passing a TSA threat assessment
Before you can actually go through the steps to obtain your Hazmat endorsement, under the Patriot Act, you must go through a Transportation Security Administration, (TSA)threat assessment. Using your supplied fingerprints, as well as law enforcement databases, the TSA wants to make sure you do not have any disqualifying felonies on your record before you are out on the highways transporting hazardous material. You must pass the TSA assessment before you are allowed to take a state-run hazardous material knowledge test.
What’s involved with the Hazardous Materials Knowledge Test
The same Hazardous Materials Knowledge test is administered in every state. There are 30 questions on the test, and an applicant must pass at least 24 questions to be successful.
Educational training for a Hazmat driver
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires Hazmat drivers to have an education course on the safe transportation of hazardous materials. There are dozens of such courses offered by private companies, and tuition for such courses typically runs around $200.
How much does it all cost
TSA fingerprint and assessment costs are under $100, although individual states may charge additional fees. Throw in Hazmat educational expenses, and all-in-all you are looking at a modest cost of $300 to perhaps $400 to obtain your endorsement certificate.full
Is that all there is to it?
It depends upon the firms you are applying to. Firms offering hazmat driver jobs often have higher standards, and meeting minimum requirements are not often enough for most firms. They want Hazmat truckers to have a superior safety driving record and have a meticulous, displayed attitude for professionalism. After all, if their drivers do not perform up to par, there are many potential lawsuits waiting to happen. Consequently, three years of driving tankers are often the minimum requirement for employment.
Are there recruiting bonuses? Choosing a firm
The answer is yes. Hazmat truckers are in such demand that is often recruiting bonuses are offered, although don’t look to recruiting bonuses alone to make your sole selection to selecting a firm to drive for. Driver’s interviewing with companies should have patience in order to find the right fit. Investigate the companies reputation carefully. Ask to interview two or three drivers for the company to get real insider insights. Consider going discussing jobs with trucker recruiting agents, which can help you sort out the wheat from the chaff. When you do an interview with a company, come prepared. Make a small list of penetrating questions to ask to make a thorough assessment of the company. You should look at driving a truck as a career, not just a way to pay the bills, and you want to be sure to find as good a fit as possible from your prospective employers. Take perks, such as vacation time, medical health insurance and time away from home into account.
Your personal assessment
Before deciding to obtain a Hazmat certificate, you should carefully ask yourself if you are mentally and emotionally suited for the job? Are you the type of free-wheeling trucker who roars down the highway at breakaway speeds? Do you frequently fudge requirements such as mandatory rest rules. Or do you have a steady, precise, safety orientated style? There is a reason that hazardous cargo requires safety placards. The chemicals or other material you are carrying are indeed downright dangerous, and it is often a well-trained and observant driver who is the first line of defense for safety.
Want to know more?
There are countless websites on the internet concerning being a hazmat trucker. You might want to consider dedicating an entire day, trying to read 50 or more. Include reading job postings on professional job sites to find out just what are the skills employers are looking for. And finally, do your very best to interview at least five, already successful Hazmat truckers. There you will find out dozens of things that might have escaped your attention. Being a Hazmat trucker can be a great career, but it’s not for everyone.