School Bus Driver: Job Description & Requirements

Working as a school bus driver requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

School bus drivers are more than just vehicle operators - students often consider them friends, and parents trust them with the safety of their children. While a college education is not required for this career, school bus drivers must complete training and obtain commercial driver's licenses and bus driver endorsements.

Required Education Completion of a formal training program in bus driving
Other Requirements Commercial driver's license with passenger and school bus endorsements; clean background check and drug screening
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 9% for school or special client bus drivers*
Median Salary (2013) $28,330 for school or special client bus drivers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

School Bus Driver Job Description

School bus drivers pick up students at stops along established routes and drop them off at school. They may also transport students and faculty to special events, such as field trips or sporting events. School bus drivers are typically employed part-time during the school year, often working split shifts of mornings and afternoons. Some drivers are allowed to park their buses at home or in convenient locations during off-hours, while others are required to return the vehicles to bus terminals. They may fulfill other duties at the school in their extra time, taking on part-time work as janitors or classroom aides.

Duties

School bus drivers must be attentive to traffic and weather conditions while staying on schedule and ensuring the safety of passengers. They must ensure that their vehicles are operating properly each day by testing brakes, tires and other components. Drivers are also responsible for maintaining a safe environment within the bus by enforcing rules of conduct and responding to emergencies. They must keep track of the amount of fuel used, number of students transported and miles driven, which they typically report to supervisors each week.

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated jobs for school bus drivers to increase 9% during the 2012-2022 decade, primarily due to growing student enrollment. As of May 2013, school bus drivers brought home a median salary of $28,330 per year, according to the BLS.

School Bus Driver Requirements

Training

School bus drivers are not required to hold college degrees; however, they typically must complete formal training programs to serve in the occupation. Training programs generally consist of both didactic and practical instruction. They learn basic federal and state rules and regulations, as well as clerical and customer service skills. Trainees also complete driving exercises, such as turning, parking and controlling the bus. They may practice driving routes under the supervision of qualified bus drivers.

Commercial Driver's License

School bus drivers are required to hold commercial driver's licenses (CDLs), obtained through their state department of transportation. Earning a CDL entails passage of knowledge and skills tests regulated by the federal government. Drivers may also be subject to background checks, physicals and random drug screenings.

Endorsements

Along with a CDL, school bus drivers are required to earn first a passenger endorsement and then a school bus endorsement. These endorsements, mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, can be obtained through a candidate's state licensing agency. Obtaining these endorsements entails passage of driving tests and written exams that cover applicable topics, such as loading and unloading children, emergency procedures and state and federal regulations. Drivers take the skills test in the same type of vehicle they'll be operating on the job.

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