Hazmat Training Online Guide

Convenience, compliance and consequences, everything you need to know about hazmat training online.

Hazmat training is required by law.

If you are interested in learning how to select the right online hazmat (an abbreviation for “hazardous materials”) transportation training course, it is likely because you are required to take one. You may have heard of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 49, commonly referred to as “49 CFR”. 49 CFR Subpart H, Section 172.704 (49 CFR 172.704) states that hazmat employees – whether rookies or seasoned professionals who have changed job functions – must receive appropriate training to enable them to properly perform their specific job functions as they relate to the safe transportation of hazardous materials, and this training must be refreshed at specified intervals. In transportation, the terms, “hazardous materials” and “dangerous goods” are synonymous and interchangeable; “hazardous materials” is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s term for what are referred to as “dangerous goods” in the international standards. Both of these terms refer to substances or articles that pose a hazard to health, safety, property or the environment when transported in commerce; if you are involved in their preparation or transportation, national and international regulations state that you must be trained. Undergoing hazmat training online does involve some time and effort on your part, and it is not even a one-time thing. You may be wondering why the hazardous materials training requirements are so stringent. The answer lies in the name: your job involves handling materials that are hazardous.. Hazmat University can help. If you are looking for convenient, cost-effective ways for you or your staff to receive hazmat training, you’ve come to the right place.

The Importance of Hazardous Materials Training

The hazardous materials you work with bear that ominous descriptor for a reason. These substances have been determined to present a hazard to health, safety, property or the environment, and they must be transported according to a specific set of rules and regulations whether transported by ground, air, or ocean.

Hazmat Online Training Guide

Hazmat professionals must transport these goods in a manner that minimizes the risk of an incident or accident, including a catastrophic event.  Regulatory compliance is critical, as the very nature of these dangerous goods means that even seemingly small missteps can result in an unsafe situation.

What Does Online Hazardous Materials Training Include?

Anyone taking courses at Hazmat University will learn:

  • The definition of hazardous materials and the principle criteria of the nine hazard classes
  • How to navigate and use the applicable regulations
  • Packing, marking, labeling, documentation and placarding requirements
  • Requirements for provision and availability of Emergency Response Information
  • Regulatory exceptions and their applicability
  • Hazmat security awareness, addressing the security risks associated with hazmat transportation and methods to enhance security in transportation

It does not end there, either: the U.S. 49 CFR regulations require recurrent training at least every three years. If transporting hazardous materials by air in accordance with the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (contained in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations), refresher training must be completed at least every 24 months.

Safety Standards and Compliance

Careful research, conducted over decades and continuing today, has identified many conditions that can compromise safety. That research combined with experience has also established the precautions required to prevent such problems. Experts use that knowledge to define and set highly precise parameters, making the safe transport of dangerous goods possible when these limitations are strictly adhered to.

To ensure that these precautions are enacted, US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) codifies them in 49 CFR as U.S. law.  Likewise, strict criteria is also established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is the UN organization globally responsible for establishing standards for safe air transportation, and by the International Maritime Organization when it comes to vessel transportation.  These rules and all their exact measurements are not arbitrary but based on those decades of careful research and experience. PHMSA enforces compliance of every regulation to the letter in order to maintain safety throughout our transportation system.

Navigating and abiding by all these laws can be challenging, and seemingly complicating matters is that there are frequent changes. PHMSA updates 49 CFR as often as required in order to reflect current standards and, where possible, to harmonize with international model regulations. Naturally, these changes sometimes require employees to not only learn something new but to perhaps unlearn something familiar, resulting in a change to long-standing habits. This is just one more challenge in an already challenging line of work.  With that said, employees that we meet want to do their jobs correctly, and what they need to do that are simply the appropriate guidance and tools.

The benefits of using current dangerous goods regulations are obvious. Every update to the dangerous goods regulations is backed by the latest knowledge on the best ways to maintain safety – for you, your fellow professionals, and the general public. Each change is either a reaction to an innovation in the hazmat field or a reflection of a lesson learned. In short, change means improvement, and none of these changes to the regulations can be effective without user compliance.

Hazmat University can assist you in this crucial aspect of the job. Our courses serve the purpose of  initial or recurrent training. All of our courses, whether initial or recurrent, are completely up-to-date and use the latest edition of 49 CFR, combined with the applicable modal regulations where applicable, as their primary resource. When you receive hazmat training online with us, you receive all the information you need to successfully comply with the most current regulations.

The Consequences of Hazardous Materials Mismanagement

Incidents involving dangerous goods happen every day.  These incidents have the potential to cause extensive and expensive damage to property and the environment. They can also result in injury and the loss of life – and unfortunately they have, too many times in the past.

If you ever find yourself thinking of the transport process’s potential dangers in the abstract, look no further than “When Things Go Wrong.” This webpage from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) highlights some of the worst disasters in the history of the air transport industry.

This website also describes the factors deemed to have caused the incident. These lessons about aviation and hazardous materials are vital because whenever such disasters occur in any mode of transportation, investigations are conducted to determine what exactly went wrong and importantly, how to prevent a recurrence. Sometimes, as a result of these investigations, it becomes necessary to alter current regulations or even create some new ones.

Much of the time the cause of an incident or accident turns out to be a simple mistake – the result of a moment of carelessness or a half-remembered requirement left unchecked. Errors tend to evolve into a cascading series of errors, which can turn fatal.  Tragically, in some instances the incident can be simply traced to a training deficit. Most could have easily been prevented if the person overseeing the relevant tasks had known better or had double-checked. Hazmat employees bear that responsibility at all times.

We do not say these things to deter anyone from the job. We want to help you understand the importance of, and appreciation for, the critical role you play. Maintaining safety during hazmat transportation requires compliance with regulations. Maintaining compliance with regulations requires education. Completing hazmat training – not just once in your career, but as often as you are required – may be the most important step you can take to maintain safety in your workplace and in the extensive transportation system that the world depends on.  All active hazmat professionals must understand and abide by the regulations, not just because it is required by law but because it is also their duty – to themselves, their colleagues, and the safety of the transportation system and everyone who uses it.

Benefits of Hazmat Employee Training Programs

If you hold a management position and your employees’ line of work has anything to do with the transportation of hazardous materials, you will find a number of benefits to offering them training online. For starters, these training programs can drive up employee engagement. As we have mentioned several times, and not without reason, hazmat employees are in a challenging line of work. If they are not entirely sure what they should be doing, they may feel stressed out, fearful, and consequently unmotivated.   Hazmat training can show them not only how they must do their job, but the importance of their role.

Another vital advantage of offering these programs is decreased turnover. The aforementioned stress of the job, combined with insufficient knowledge or training, can result in failure to comply with the regulations. Employees who lack workplace support often leave for a more supportive work environment.  Also, violations for lack of compliance often result in termination of the offending employee, requiring the training process to begin anew with replacement staff. Employee turnover can be an expensive and time-consuming problem for some companies. Thankfully, offering hazardous materials training can make the job much easier for them and may improve the rate of staff attrition in your organization.

Types of Training Courses

Now that you have a better understanding of the purpose of online hazmat training, you may believe you are ready to select the right course. Before you make any decision, you should at least understand your options.

U.S. and international regulations specify that hazmat training must include the following elements, all of which are addressed in Hazmat University’s online courses:

  • General awareness, or familiarization: basic and  essential information on the provisions of the regulations regarding recognition, safe handling, preparation and transportation of hazardous materials shipments.
  • Function-specific: training that involves teaching you how to compliantly perform the functions of your specific role in the process.
  • Safety: covering safe handling, accident avoidance, and the requirements for emergency response information.
  • Security awareness: addressing the vigilance required and sound practices designed to ensure that no one within or outside your organization has unauthorized access to, or tampers with, the hazardous materials.

NOTE:  While understandably not addressed in publicly-accessible online training, companies required to maintain an in-depth security plan in accordance with 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart I must additionally provide any affected employees with appropriate training regarding the unique details of that established plan.

Training requirements establishes that employers are responsible to ensure that training is provided or verified upon employment of a hazmat employee.  A new hazmat employee or a hazmat employee who changes job functions may only perform those functions prior to completion of training provided:

  • The employee performs those functions under the direct supervision of a properly trained and knowledgeable hazmat employee; and
  • The training is completed within 90 days after employment or change a change in job function.

Recurrent training is also required, and 49 CFR requires that it be completed within 36 months of initial training or the previous recurrent training.  Persons who are preparing shipments in accordance with the ICAO/IATA regulations for air transportation must complete recurrent training every 24 months in compliance with the ICAO requirements and persons who are preparing shipments in accordance with the IMDG Code regulations for ocean transportation must complete recurrent training every 36 months in compliance with 49 CFR or their applicable competent authority if other than the US territory.

Here are the different focuses of Hazmat University’s online hazmat training, as well as who should take which type. All Hazmat University courses offer modular, self-paced lessons covering:

  • The format and limitations of the applicable regulations, including training requirements;
  • The principle criteria of the nine hazard classes, and an overview of classification;
  • Identification of the dangerous goods;
  • Packing, marking, labeling, documentation and placarding requirements; and
  • Hazmat Security Awareness.

Each modular lesson provides a quiz covering the contents of the lesson; upon successful completion of all test questions, a record of training completion is provided.

See if you can identify which focus best suits your training needs or line of work:

49 CFR (Shipping by Highway)

49 CFR shipping by ground (highway) training is required for anyone involved in the preparation or transport of dangerous goods by highway to, from, or within the United States.

Recurrent training is required to be completed within 3 years months of initial training or the previous recurrent training, in accordance with 49 CFR training requirements..

IATA (Air)

If your work involves shipping dangerous goods by air, you must complete shipping by air training.  49 CFR Part 171, Subpart C, authorizes shipments prepared in accordance with the ICAO Technical Instructions (ICAO TI), and within the limitations of that subpart, to be transported by air, and by U.S. highway before or after the transportation by air.  The IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (IATA DGR) are published by the International Air Transportation Association and are fully compliant with the ICAO TI. The IATA DGR also contains requirements that have been agreed-upon by the airline industry for transportation of dangerous goods by air, and are therefore the most widely used regulations for air transport of hazmat.

Recurrent training is required to be completed within 24 months of initial training or the previous recurrent training,  in accordance with the ICAO requirements..

IMDG (Shipping by Vessel)

If your work involves shipping dangerous goods by vessel (ocean), you must complete shipping by vessel training.  49 CFR Part 171, Subpart C, authorizes shipments prepared in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), and within the limitations of that subpart, to be transported by vessel and by U.S. highway before or after the vessel transportation.

Recurrent training is required to be completed within 36 months of initial training or the previous recurrent training, in accordance with the requirements of 49 CFR.

Multimodal Training

Your role in your organization may require assisting with the preparation, handling or transport of hazardous materials or dangerous goods by more than one mode of transportation. In such scenarios, you cannot complete training in just one of those modes and consider yourself compliant. You are required to complete multimodal training, covering the requirements of each mode of transportation that your job affects.  This type of program is crucial for learning how to maintain safety in every aspect of your job, and to clarify anything that may be confusing about the similarities and differences of the modal regulations.

Multimodal Air and Ground Training

If your position involves you in the preparation of hazmat shipments by ground and by air, you must complete multimodal ground and air training. This type of training covers everything you would need to know about the requirements of 49 CFR and the IATA DGR.

Employees new to this multimodal role must receive initial training, and due to the stringent ICAO restrictions for air transportation, recurrent training must be completed within  24 months of the initial or previous recurrent training.

Multimodal Ground & Vessel Training

Plenty of professions in the field of dangerous goods put employees in the intersection between ground transport and vessel transport. Anyone in these professions must complete multimodal ground and vessel training. It is crucial for all employees with these special jobs to understand the relevant regulations and how to perform their specific duties. In this case, those would be 49 CFR and the International Maritime Organization’s IMDG Code.

With the more stringent laws regarding air transport training out of the picture here, employees involved in both ground and vessel transport need recurrent training within 36 months of initial training or their previous training.

Multimodal Air & Vessel Training

In the experience of certain professionals, the process of transporting dangerous goods hardly touches the ground. Multimodal air and vessel training is required for anyone involved in sending dangerous goods aloft or afloat. As you may have guessed, such training requires learning the ins and outs of IATA DGR and IMDG Code. What you may not have guessed is that you still need an understanding of 49 CFR if your transport routes go through the airspace or territorial waters of the United States.

Initial training is required before an employee can truly start their multimodal work. Recurrent training must be taken within 24 months of the previous training.

Multimodal Air, Ground & Vessel Training

This grand slam of multimodal training combines information about all three modes and their respective regulations: IATA DGR, 49 CFR, and the IMDG Code. It is reserved and required for professionals whose duties encompass all three major modes of hazardous materials/dangerous goods transport.

Multimodal air, ground, and vessel initial training is necessary for anyone who first adopts a position that involves all these modes of transport. Within 24 months of the previous training, they must then refresh themselves with recurrent training. That refresher course is especially vital for this type of training considering that in the elapsed time, the three separate sets of regulations may have received significant updates.

General Awareness Training

Perhaps your position does not place you in direct contact with hazardous materials or dangerous goods. Perhaps you simply happen to work in an office or building where other people come in direct contact with such materials and goods. You may be a manager, a port official, or a receptionist. Even then, this does not free you from certain responsibilities, including the safety of yourself and those around you, and it is important that you be able to recognize dangerous goods to ensure that they are dealt with only by properly trained personnel.   Hazmat incidents do not discriminate, and neither do the regulations.

49 CFR, IATA DGR, and the IMDG Code all require everyone in the workplace to have at least some familiarity with hazardous materials. That is why every training course above includes general awareness training. Moreover, that is why a separate general awareness training is available for those who do not need more detailed, function-specific information. This type of training can show you, among other vital lessons, how to recognize hazardous materials and how to react in the event of an emergency.

As an additional safety measure, 49 CFR also requires that everyone who needs dangerous goods general awareness training must retake it at least once every three years.

Lithium Batteries Training

Many widely-used household items require lithium batteries, from cell phones to pacemakers to vehicles and more. Demand is high, and these batteries need to be transported all over the world. However, if packaged or handled incorrectly, they may pose a significant threat to users and the surrounding environment. Their danger combined with their popularity means you will find many detailed regulations and controls created specifically to ensure their safe transport, with similarities and differences between the modal requirements.

Hazmat University offers a flexible series of modal and multimodal Lithium Batteries courses to help you navigate these sometimes-confusing requirements, to ensure your shipments of lithium batteries are prepared safely and compliantly, and their transport will be therefore facilitated. Selecting a multimodal course which combines the requirements of the multiple transportation modes of your choice provides you not only with the same content as you would receive by taking the individual modal courses, but also with significant savings of time and cost when compared to completing the modal courses individually.

Any of these courses may be completed as a standalone course for shippers who only ship lithium batteries, or may be taken as supplemental to the more comprehensive courses for those wishing to enhance their knowledge regarding the lithium battery provisions.

Limited Quantities Training

Small quantities of some dangerous goods are eligible to be shipped under Limited Quantity provisions, which offer similar, but not identical, exceptions across all of the modal transport regulations. Common to all of the modal regulations for Limited Quantities is an exception to the requirement for use of UN Specification packagings, which can offer significant cost savings to shippers of these materials.

Modal and multimodal Limited Quantities courses are available through Hazmat University. Any of these courses may be completed as a standalone course for shippers who only ship Limited Quantities, or may be taken as supplemental to the more comprehensive courses for those wishing to enhance their knowledge regarding the Limited Quantity provisions.

Quality and Convenience of Online Vs. In-Person Training

Easy Ordering

You cannot select just any in-person hazmat training you come across. You would need to find a program that is geographically close enough for you to reach on a regular basis. Moreover, you would need to find one that starts and concludes within 90 days of your starting your position as a hazmat employee, as required by regulations. This can be tricky, especially because any available spots may be few in number and may fill up quickly.

Ordering online hazmat training requires far less logistical planning on your part. You can complete this training from anywhere with an internet connection, so there is no need to look for training near you. It is available any time on any day, so you do not have to wait for any specific date. Other factors like class size and commuting time become nonissues. As soon as you order your hazmat training online, it is right there for you.

Self-paced Learning

Professional hazmat trainers cannot make themselves or their instruction available 24/7. Anyone who undergoes in-person training will have to stick to a class schedule, which can interfere with their regular schedule for work and life. The time they need to carve out for their training would include not just the class hours, but the time needed to commute to and from the training location.

Online hazmat training, on the other hand, have no such need for schedules. Trainees can receive their instruction at their own leisure – they can log in and out whenever they want or need. This is not just great for saving time, but also for taking the amount of time you need to complete the course. You can learn at the pace that best suits you, whether you prefer finishing the course in one go or spreading it out over days or weeks. Online hazmat training is available whenever you are.


In-person hazmat training can be expensive. The overall fee may take into account the price of the classes, the training professional’s wages, and various other charges. You also need to factor in travel time and expenses for you to get there and back.  All of this can add up to a hefty amount that can discourage attendance.

Thankfully, undergoing hazmat online training can be a far more affordable alternative. The training consists purely of the lessons in a completely online module. This cuts out many of the costs that would otherwise be required for in-person training, all without cutting out any of the information you need for your certification.


While in-person training has many benefits, online hazmat training offers the advantage of having more control over the lessons. Their design has a beginning and an end, but you have the freedom to jump around at any point in the program to review anything you may have missed or just want to see again. You can repeat slides and recordings as many times as it takes for you to understand them. Plus, taking notes is easier than ever when they are right in front of you.

Best of all, because Hazmat University has professional designers and programmers behind their online courses, even tech novices can easily navigate them. Hazmat University’s training modules are designed and created by hazmat training professionals, and the courses are intuitive enough that anyone can pick up on how to use them. User-friendly online hazmat training software makes everything simpler and better.

Test Our Hazmat Training Courses for Yourself

You’ve read all about the courses, would you like to see what they look like? Watch this interactive demonstration of Hazmat University’s courses. If you still have questions on how to select the appropriate hazmat training course, call us at 844-532-7634 or contact us here.