What Is A CDL Endorsement?

Passing your CDL exam doesn’t mean your training as a truck driver is done. In fact, if you’re looking to learn more and earn more, you might be interested in getting an endorsement.

What is a CDL endorsement, you ask? Endorsements are signifiers that you can perform additional duties while driving by passing both written and driving exams. Earning an endorsement can help you diversify your skills as a truck driver, potentially earning you more pay. The cost of your endorsement can vary anywhere from $20 to $100 depending on which state you are licensed in.

Read on and explore the endorsements that are offered to CDL drivers.

Hazardous materials

Having a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement is highly desirable to trucking companies; however, it does come with additional responsibilities. Those who haul hazmat may be carrying explosives, gases, flammable materials and more. Before getting your certification, you must pay a fee, pass a written test and complete a TSA background check. You will need to take a recertification exam every two years to maintain your ability to haul hazmat.

Your hazmat exam will test you on:

  • Knowledge of hazmat regulations
  • How to safely load and unload
  • Further safety practices


Earning a tanker endorsement means exactly what it sounds like: you can now drive a tanker truck. A tanker endorsement is also required for any trailer that contains an unattached tote or portable tank with a cargo capacity of 1,000 gallons or more per the FMCSA. A tanker is defined as any truck that carries a tank, typically full of liquids, gases, chemicals, and sometimes dry goods. If you get both a tanker and hazmat endorsement, they are listed as an X endorsement on your CDL, which notes that you have completed both of these endorsements.

Your tanker exam will cover:

  • Safe driving maneuvers
  • Components of a tanker truck
  • Inspection of tanker

Air brake

The air brake endorsement is only needed for drivers who failed the air brake portion of their CDL exam or took their exam in a truck that did not have air brakes on it. As air brakes are becoming more and more common on trucks, this is a test that you will want to go back and take if you did not pass on the first try. This endorsement requires a skills and written test due to a federal requirement.

Your exam will include knowledge of:

  • The components of an air brake
  • Proper inspection technique
  • Correct safety measures


If you want to pull more than one trailer at a time, you will need to obtain an endorsement to pull double and triple trailers. Keep in mind that pulling a triple trailer is illegal in many states, and many carriers will not have you pull one as a result. There is no road skills test required for this endorsement, only a written exam.

Your exam will cover these aspects:

  • Coupling and uncoupling
  • Rollover situations
  • Driving in adverse conditions

School bus/passenger

Though it may seem out of place, it’s not uncommon for truck drivers to also obtain a school bus or passenger van endorsement. This can help you if you want a side job or if you choose to leave the trucking industry at some point. You must first pass the passenger test before you pass the school bus test, both of which require a written and road skills exam.

Exam includes:

  • Using vehicle safety devices
  • How to handle emergency situations
  • Safely loading and unloading passengers


We’re always on the lookout for drivers who want to push their skills to the next level.

Reach out to one of our recruiters and have all of your questions answered in a timely fashion. If you are ready to see what Prime has to offer you, enroll in our truck driver training program and get started on your truck driving career.

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