Bus Driver Training and Education Program Information
Bus drivers operate school buses, public transit buses and motor coaches for school districts, local government transit agencies and private transportation companies. Training programs are available to obtain a commercial driver's license and learn the state traffic and safety regulations to begin work in this field.
School and Public Transit Bus Driver Training Programs
Transit bus drivers are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL) plus a passenger endorsement, and school bus drivers need a CDL plus a passenger and school bus endorsement. Endorsements permit drivers to operate buses and are earned through state licensing agencies by passing a skills test. Bus companies, school districts and transit organizations offer training programs to prepare new employees to pass their CDL exams and safely operate buses. Courses usually take several weeks to complete.
Candidates typically must be hired before beginning bus driver training; a valid driver's license and clean driving record are the essential factors for employment consideration. Employers may prefer a high school diploma or its equivalent. Also, because safety is a primary concern for transit organizations and school districts, applicants must be in good physical and mental health. Passing a drug test is also a common requirement. Effective communication skills are an informal prerequisite for interacting with school children as well as adult passengers.
Coursework for bus driver training programs covers driving rules, safety regulations, vehicle inspection and bus operation. Students receive classroom instruction as well as behind-the-wheel practice on driving courses. Students may also study route maps and accompany experienced bus drivers on their routes. School bus training may include instruction on how to communicate with children, enforce bus rules and respond to bad behavior. After training, students should be knowledgeable in:
- Department of Transportation regulations
- Emergencies and first aid
- Trip planning and route reading
- Bus operation and inspection
- Safety procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job opportunities for bus drivers are expected to increase 13% from 2010-2020. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for school bus drivers was $29,150 in 2012, whereas public transit and intercity bus drivers earned a mean annual wage of $38,470 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing education courses are offered to keep drivers up to date on state traffic and safety regulations. Depending on a driver's employer or state, continuing education courses may be a requirement every few years. Such courses may focus on issues such as driving distractions, emergency response and passenger communication. Courses generally require a valid CDL license.
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