How to Become a HAZMAT Tanker Driver

How to Become a HAZMAT Tanker Driver

The demand for truck drivers is only continuing to grow, and there are many different types of truck driving jobs. Whether you’re a new driver or if you already have a couple of years of experience, it’s a good idea to accumulate any endorsements you can.  It just makes you more marketable in general.  Hazmat tanker jobs are just one of many truck driving jobs. If you seriously thinking about becoming a hazmat tanker truck driver, here are a few things you should know first.

What is a hazmat truck / tanker?

Hazmat trucks are responsible for delivering and disposing hazardous materials. Hazardous materials include such things as gases, explosives, poisons, corrosive chemicals, and radioactive materials.  Hazmat tanker drivers are not limited to only hauling hazardous material, however. They can also drive any non-hazardous tanker as well.

What are the requirements? 

Becoming a certified hazmat tanker driver means adding some more specific endorsements to your existing CDL. You will need additional training that is specifically designed for transporting and handling hazardous materials.
[UPDATE 2022] Effective February 2022 – A driver who wants a hazmat endorsement must complete training required by the Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) program. This training is available at

After you get your CDL, you will go through a background check and complete the rest of the application requirements. The application requires the following:

  • Take an approved ELDT Hazmat Training Course
  • Pass the HAZMAT knowledge Test
  • Proof of Age requirement (must be at least 21 years old)
  • Proof of US citizenship or legal residence
  • Medical and Eye Exam

Does it require a lot more skill?

Truck driving is a difficult career as it is.  It can be rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. Hazmat tanker drivers have even more specific skills required of you. Technical skills aside, hazmat tankers should also have good personal skills. Being patient, on time, and detail oriented are a just a few.  These skills will make you a better driver, and worker in general.

Can I make more money as a HAZMAT Driver?

Hazmat tanker drivers make more money in general. This is because more they require more experience and more skills to haul hazardous loads. According to recent statistics, the average salary for a hazmat tanker driver in the United States is $63,035, but falls between $55,660 and $72,277 annually, depending on geographic location, and other variables. Salary can also vary based on education, certifications, experiences, and additional skills.

Will I enjoy being a HAZMAT Driver?

Regardless of what you are hauling, being a truck driver is a stressful job. Safety is a top priority for all drivers, but it’s especially true for hazmat tanker drivers. Hauling hazardous material means that accidents or spills are much more severe. Hazmat tanker drivers tend to be under more stress than drivers that haul non-hazardous materials. Hazmat drivers need to be especially cautious and need to plan their routes accordingly.

What specific challenges and risks do HAZMAT tanker drivers face compared to drivers hauling non-hazardous materials?

HAZMAT tanker drivers encounter a variety of unique challenges and risks beyond those faced by drivers transporting non-hazardous materials. These include:

  • Handling Dangerous Materials: Drivers must be knowledgeable about the hazardous materials they are transporting, including their potential reactions, hazards in case of a spill, and proper containment measures.
  • Regulatory Compliance: There are stringent regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials, requiring drivers to stay up-to-date with legal requirements, including proper labeling, documentation, and transport procedures.
  • Emergency Response: HAZMAT drivers must be trained in emergency response procedures in case of an accident or spill. This includes knowing how to use protective gear, containment measures, and first-aid practices specific to the materials being hauled.
  • Route Planning: Routes must be carefully planned to avoid prohibited areas and minimize risk. Some areas have restrictions on transporting certain types of hazardous materials.
  • Increased Scrutiny: HAZMAT drivers can expect more frequent inspections and higher expectations for vehicle maintenance and safety standards.

How does the salary for a HAZMAT tanker driver compare to other specialized truck driving jobs?

HAZMAT tanker driving is generally considered one of the higher-paying jobs in the trucking industry due to the additional skills, certifications, and risks involved. When compared to other specialized trucking jobs, such as driving refrigerated trucks or oversized loads, HAZMAT drivers often earn more. However, salaries can vary widely based on factors like experience, location, and the specific type of hazardous materials transported. For instance, drivers handling extremely dangerous materials might earn more than those transporting less hazardous substances. It’s also worth noting that some specialized areas, like oversized load hauling, may offer comparable or sometimes higher compensation depending on demand and the level of skill required.

What is the career progression or advancement opportunities for HAZMAT tanker drivers?

Career progression for HAZMAT tanker drivers can take several forms, depending on individual goals and opportunities within their companies or the industry at large. Some potential paths include:

  • Specialization: Drivers can specialize in transporting specific types of hazardous materials, potentially leading to higher pay and preferred job assignments.
  • Training and Education: Gaining additional certifications or completing advanced safety training can open doors to higher-paying positions or roles with more responsibility.
  • Management Roles: With experience, a HAZMAT driver could move into management positions, such as supervising other drivers, working in safety compliance, or logistics planning.
  • Ownership: Some drivers eventually become owner-operators, owning their trucks and running their business, which can increase earning potential but also comes with additional risks and responsibilities.
  • Teaching: Experienced drivers might also transition into roles as trainers or educators, teaching new drivers about safety and compliance in transporting hazardous materials.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is based on the data available as of its writing and is meant to inform and guide prospective CDL trainees. For the most current information and specifics about CDL training programs, please contact SAGE Truck Driving Schools directly.