Bus drivers operate various types of buses to transport students, commuters or tourists between locations. Drivers typically work without direct supervision and are fully responsible for the safety and satisfaction of their passengers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS for short, employment of bus drivers was projected to grow by 6% in the decade spanning 2014 to 2024. This was about as fast as average for all occupations. Additionally, as of May 2015, the BLS reported that transit and intercity bus drivers earned a mean annual salary of $40,160 while school and special client bus drivers earned $30,580.
The BLS notes that the majority of bus drivers work for school districts or for private bus companies that contract with districts, transporting children to school, field trips and other activities. School bus drivers typically drive the same route every day, and may take on additional duties in the school when off-duty. They are usually employed only during the school year.
Other bus drivers work in the transit and tourism sectors. Since intercity bus drivers accommodate commuters' schedules, they generally work long and unusual hours. They may work early morning, late evening and weekend shifts.
Charter and commercial bus drivers transport people on interstate trips, chartered tours or scheduled routes in a city or community. These drivers often have established routes and restrictions on the number of hours they can spend behind the wheel.
Bus drivers follow precise schedules and must adjust their driving according to traffic and weather conditions in order to arrive at each stop at the designated time. Bus drivers must do their best to avoid accidents and may be responsible for maintaining orderliness among passengers. School bus drivers must ensure the safety of the children, which may include accompanying students across the street, providing first aid in emergencies, and keeping the bus in safe working condition.
Bus drivers may also be required to keep records of their commute times and report mechanical issues, delays or other dilemmas. Transit and intercity bus driver duties may also include collecting fares and guiding passengers in their travels.
While there are no formal education requirements for becoming a bus driver, candidates must meet state and federal regulations. A prospective bus driver must earn a commercial driver's license, or CDL, which entails passing a written exam and bus driving test. Drivers must also obtain a passenger endorsement, which allows them to transport people.
More specific requirements are often required for school bus drivers. These requirements vary depending on the state issuing the license. For example, the North Carolina Department of Transportation requires that school bus drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have at least six months of experience as a licensed driver.
Some states require school bus drivers to obtain a school bus endorsement, submit to a criminal background check and pass a medical examination. States may also require school bus drivers to receive extra training in areas such as mountain driving or transporting special needs children.