CDL Tanker Endorsement Overview – Easy Guide

| Last Updated: November 8, 2021

As a commercial truck driver, jobs that require you to transport bulk liquids and gases pay well. The problem, however, is that your commercial driver’s license alone is not enough. You also need a Tanker endorsement. 

The certification allows you to legally and safely transport high-volume liquids, and with it, you improve your chances of getting better-paying transportation jobs.

This guide will help you understand what a CDL Tanker endorsement is, the requirements for obtaining it, and the types of CDL Tanker endorsements.

What is a Tanker Endorsement? 

A Tanker endorsement is a certification that allows commercial truck drivers to haul any liquid or gas in bulk. 

So, if you plan to carry gas cargo or a large amount of liquid that exceeds 1,000 gallons, a Tanker endorsement is a must-have.

The certification confirms that you have undergone the required training and passed all the tests necessary for transporting bulky fluids. 

Usually, the endorsement, denoted by the letter N, is displayed on your commercial driver’s license (CDL). 

Tanker Endorsement Requirements

Generally, the following requirements are essential for truck drivers looking to obtain the Tanker endorsement:

  • Be 18 years of age or above with a valid commercial driving license (CDL) or must have applied for one at the time of applying for the endorsement
  • Aptitude to drive a vehicle designed to transport liquids or gases in a tank
  • Must have a valid US passport or legal US residential status
  • Pass an eye exam or vision test
  • Avail your most current photo to the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Be willing to pay for all the necessary training, application, and test fees
  • Complete the hazardous material (HazMat) and tanker endorsement tests 
  • Pass a background check
  • Types of Tanker Endorsements

    Tanker endorsements usually come in two types, namely:

    a)   The N Endorsement

    The N endorsement is necessary for hauling 1,000 gallons or more of liquid or gas. Usually, you need to pass a set of 20-30 questions to obtain the N Endorsement. 

    b) The X Endorsement

    The X endorsement is a special endorsement that combines the traditional Tanker endorsement and an additional HazMat endorsement to allow you to haul hazardous materials such as gasoline. 

    You must pass a HazMat written test and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) background check to earn the endorsement.

    When is a Tanker Endorsement Required?

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that drivers must hold a tanker endorsement if they haul a hazardous load. 

    Overall, a Tanker endorsement is necessary in any of these three cases:

    • If you plan to haul large volumes of gas or liquid, about 1,000 gallons or more.
    • If the hauling containers are full-capacity (not empty) 
    • If the individual transportation containers have a load capacity that is at least 119 gallons

    Remember, a Tanker endorsement shows that you have the necessary knowledge to safely transport bulk and hazardous liquids and gases. As such, it’s an essential safety requirement for commercial truck drivers who want to transport bulk loads.

    Overall, failing to obtain this certification could lead to issues like hefty fines of up to $5,000, 90 days of license suspension, and in worse cases, you may lose your freedom to ever work as a commercial truck driver.

    Do You Need a Tanker Endorsement To Haul 55 Gallon Drums?

    55-gallon drums are below the requirement for a Tanker endorsement. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, you need a combined volume of at least 1,000 gallons or multiple tanks with at least a 119-gallon capacity each. 

    You don’t need a Tanker endorsement to haul 55-gallon drums.

    Do You Need a Tanker Endorsement To Drive a Cement Truck?

    You do not require a Tanker endorsement to transport cement or any other dry loads. A Tanker endorsement is only necessary when transporting high-volume liquids or gases, at least 1,000 gallons in multiple containers or 119 gallons in an individual organization.

    How to Get a Tanker Endorsement

    The process of acquiring a Tanker endorsement is easy, and if you compare the cost to the penalties of not having it, it’s cheaper. 

    Below are the simple steps for obtaining the additional CDL certification:

    1.  Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles

    If you want a Tanker endorsement displayed in your CDL, you have to go to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to apply for the test.

    2.  Pay for the Test 

    The next step is to pay for the test, which costs about $20-$50, depending on your state. 

    3.  Study and Sit for the Test 

    Once you complete training for the Tanker endorsement, you can go ahead and sit for the test. You have to undertake two types of tests: the eye test and the general knowledge test. 

    The general knowledge test is a 20 to 30-question written test that you must complete at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The test generally gauges your understanding of the safe transportation of high-volume liquids and gases.

    As for the eye test, you’ll need to avail your most recent photo showing the condition of your eyes.

    4.  Pass the Test 

    You only receive the Tanker endorsement after passing both the eyes test and the CMV general knowledge test. Overall, you need to score at least 80% to earn the certification.

    Is a Tanker Endorsement Hard to Obtain and Maintain?

    In actuality, the Tanker endorsement is not hard to obtain. First, it is relatively inexpensive as it will only cost you $20-$50, depending on the state you live in. 

    Second, you only sit for a general knowledge test of 20-30 questions, and you need to score 80% to pass it. 

    And lastly, the requirements for the application are straightforward for commercial truck drivers.

    As for the endorsement maintenance, it’s not complicated as you can renew it just like you do with your CDL license. The secret is to ensure you renew it in time together with your commercial driver’s license, and you’ll be at peace with the law. 

    Benefits of Having a Tanker Endorsement

    Having a Tanker endorsement added to your CDL comes with the following benefits:

    Improved Chances of Finding Transportation Jobs

    Companies that deal with large volumes of liquids and gases are always looking for CDL drivers with the Tanker certification. 

    You have a better chance of getting employed by them if you are certified. 

    High Earning Potential

    In the US, truck drivers with Tanker endorsement pocket an average of $20.32 per hour. That’s quite decent if you consider the number of hours that you may be on the road.

    Overall, the endorsement gives you more leverage when discussing the payment terms, especially with a new employer.

    Become Knowledgeable on Safe Transportation

    The Tanker endorsement training and sets of questions that you sit for during the endorsement evaluation smarten you up in readiness for bulk load transportation. You become more knowledgeable, especially after completing the training and passing the assessment.

    You also convince your employers of your knowledge in the bulk fluid transportation sector.  

    Legal Load Transportation

    Lastly, a CDL Tanker endorsement allows you to transport bulk liquids and gases legally. It saves you from incurring hefty fines or having your license suspended by the transport authorities. 


    You need a Tanker endorsement displayed to your CDL if you want to improve your chances of getting a better-paying transportation job and legally and safely transport bulk liquids and gases. 

    The process for obtaining one is inexpensive and straightforward, thus advisable for commercial drivers who want to haul bulk loads. 

    People Also Ask

    Though we’ve discussed the CDL Tanker endorsement in detail, you may still have some questions you would want answers for concerning the endorsement. Here’s a set of common Tanker endorsement questions.

    How Many Questions Are on the Tanker Endorsement Test?

    The Tanker endorsement general knowledge test comprises a set of 20-30 questions, which relate to the safe transportation of high-volume liquids and gaseous materials. 

    Does Tanker Endorsement Expire?

    A Tanker endorsement on its own does not expire, but since it is part of your commercial driving license, you have to renew it together with your CDL. The tanker endorsement will remain valid as long as the CDL is valid.

    How Much Does It Cost To Add Tanker Endorsement To CDL?

    Well, Tanker endorsements are inexpensive. On average, they cost $20-$50, depending on your state. Be sure to confirm the actual cost from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Can I Get My Tanker Endorsement Online?

    The simple answer is no. You have to undertake a written general knowledge test, which you have to sit for at your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. You must present yourself physically to the DMV to complete the test.

    What is the Average Tanker Endorsement Salary?

    With the Tanker Endorsement, truck drivers hauling large liquids and gases earn more money than regular drivers. They pocket $20.32 per hour on average, but those who transport riskier loads are likely to make more. 

    Generally, the riskier the material you are transporting, the better the pay.

    After spending years on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the hardships that came with the trucking industry. I realized there was an opportunity to lend a hand a create a resource for truckers by truckers. With the help of my tech-savvy son, I built Trucker Geek as a way to show people that becoming a driver doesn’t need to be a stressful headache.