Should I Become a Motorcoach Driver?
Motorcoach bus drivers usually transport passengers on chartered trips and tours that may last up to several days. While transporting tour groups, these drivers make sure all passengers are comfortable, on schedule and accounted for when boarding the bus after each stop. They also handle maintenance checks and proper upkeep on the vehicle. These transportation experts must have very flexible schedules and be willing to spend extended periods of time away from home. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual salary of transit and inner city bus drivers was $38,290 as of May 2015.
You don't need a degree to become a motorcoach driver, but you must have a class B commercial driver's license with passenger endorsement and three years commercial driving experience. Some employers will also offer training to get your license. You must have customer service and basic bus maintenance skills, along with patience, hand-eye coordination and good vision and hearing. You'll need the ability to work flexible hours and be available for trips lasting extended periods of time and a clean driving record. You must pass a drug test, be 21 or older to drive interstate and pass a physical.
Steps to Become a Motorcoach Driver
Let's see what steps you'll have to take to become a motorcoach driver.
Step 1: Earn a Commercial Driver's License with Passenger Endorsement
A class B commercial driver's license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement is mandatory to drive a charter bus. Some companies offer on-the-job training, or training and licensing can be obtained through a CDL driving school. Training includes classroom study about commercial vehicle operation and safety instruction, as well as driving time in an actual bus. These programs can last several weeks or months, or until the required number of hours has been completed.
In order to earn a CDL, you must pass the state-issued exam. The CDL exam varies by state, but adheres to the minimum standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. An additional test must be passed demonstrating knowledge and skills specific to transporting passengers to obtain a passenger endorsement on the CDL. A physical examination is also required.
Keep a safe driving record. The Department of Public Safety, or other regulating offices in a given state, will not issue a commercial driver's license to individuals with poor driving records. Standards for what constitutes a good record vary from state to state, and employers may have their own standards that are more stringent than those of the state.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Since some motorcoach companies require driving experience, it can be beneficial to find related employment for a couple of years. A job driving for a trucking company can provide the experience of driving a commercial vehicle long distances, while a job as a local bus driver can provide experience with passengers and bus equipment.
Live a clean lifestyle. Employees who drive a motor vehicle may be subjected to random testing to ensure they have no controlled substances or alcohol in their systems. Holding a CDL is automatic consent to be tested for such substances. Failing a test can be grounds for job dismissal and revocation of a CDL.
Step 3: Keep License Current
As with any driver's license, a CDL must be periodically renewed. The renewal process and timeline vary by state. A fee generally is required as well as a valid medical certificate.
Step 4: Advancement
Advancement is typically possible by becoming a truck driver or delivery truck driver, or by obtaining a supervisory position at a motorcoach company.
To become a motorcoach driver, you must obtain and maintain the proper driver's license, along with maintaining a clean driving record and being free of controlled substances.