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. Transit and school bus drivers are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL) plus a passenger endorsement and, for school bus drivers, school bus endorsement. Endorsements are earned through state licensing agencies by passing a skills test.
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, as well as good physical and mental health and effective communication skills. Employers may prefer a high school diploma or its equivalent. Passing a drug test is also a common requirement.
Bus Driver Training
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 6% from 2014-2024. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for school bus drivers was $30,580 in 2015, whereas public transit and intercity bus drivers earned a mean annual wage of $40,160 (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.
Training programs are offered by a variety of organizations for those wishing to become bus drivers. These programs teach new hires the skills necessary to pass CDL exams and earn endorsements.