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Bus Driver Careers

The wheels on the bus go round and round. While you may get tired of this song as a bus driver, it does speak some truth. As a bus driver, your job is to make sure those wheels go round... and round. Bus drivers help people get from point A to point B.

The majority of bus drivers work from schools, but some provide transportation for a city. The job can be stressful sometimes, especially if you have road rage. But isn't generally too hard. Really the only obstacles you may have to overcome is traffic, bad weather and unruly passengers. And as long as you have a commercial driver's license, you're good to go.

What Does a Bus Driver Do

Bus drivers transport people between various places—including, work, school, and shopping malls—and across state and national borders. Some drive regular routes, and others transport passengers on chartered trips or sightseeing tours. They drive a range of vehicles, from 15-passenger buses to 60-foot articulated buses (with two connected sections) that can carry more than 100 passengers.

Duties

Bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Pick up and drop off passengers at designated locations
  • Follow a planned route according to a time schedule
  • Help disabled passengers get on and off the bus
  • Obey traffic laws and state and federal transit regulations
  • Follow procedures to ensure passenger safety
  • Keep passengers informed of possible delays
  • Perform basic maintenance (check the bus tires, lights, and oil)
  • Keep the bus clean and presentable to the public

School bus drivers transport students to and from school and other activities. On school days, drivers pick up students in the morning and return them home in the afternoon. They also drive students to field trips, sporting events, and other activities. Between morning and afternoon trips, some drivers work at schools in other occupations, such as janitors, cafeteria workers, or mechanics. School bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Ensure the safety of children getting on and off the bus
  • Attend to the needs of children with disabilities
  • Keep order and safety on the school bus
  • Understand and enforce the school system’s conduct rules
  • Report disciplinary problems to the school district or parents

Local transit bus drivers follow a daily schedule while transporting people on regular routes along city or suburban streets. They stop frequently, often every few blocks and when a passenger requests a stop. Some large transit agencies may require bus drivers to submit traffic data for analysis. Local transit drivers typically do the following:

  • Collect bus fares, sometimes making change for passengers
  • Answer questions about schedules, routes, and transfer points
  • Report accidents or other traffic disruptions to a central dispatcher

Intercity bus drivers transport passengers between cities or towns, sometimes crossing state lines. They usually pick up and drop off passengers at bus stations or curbside locations in downtown urban areas. Intercity drivers typically do the following:

  • Ensure all passengers have a valid ticket to ride the bus
  • Sell tickets to passengers when there are unsold seats available, if necessary
  • Keep track of when passengers get on or off the bus
  • Follow a central dispatcher’s instruction when taking an alternate route
  • Help passengers load or unload baggage

Charter bus drivers, sometimes called motorcoach drivers, transport passengers on chartered trips or sightseeing tours. Trip planners generally arrange their schedules and routes based on the convenience of the passengers, who are often on vacation. Motor coach drivers are sometimes away for long periods of time because they usually stay with the passengers for the length of the trip. Motor coach drivers typically do the following:

  • Listen to and sometimes address passenger complaints
  • Ensure the trip stays on schedule
  • Help passengers load or unload baggage
  • Account for all passengers before leaving a location
  • Act as tour guides for passengers, if necessary

How To Become a Bus Driver

Bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This can sometimes be earned during on-the-job training. A bus driver must possess a clean driving record and often may be required to pass a background check. They also must meet physical, hearing and vision requirements. In addition, bus drivers often need a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Education

Most employers prefer drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Bus drivers typically go through 1 to 3 months of training. Part of the training is spent on a driving course, where drivers practice various maneuvers with a bus. They then begin to drive in light traffic and eventually make practice runs on the type of route that they expect to drive. New drivers make regularly scheduled trips with passengers and are accompanied by an experienced driver who gives helpful tips, answers questions, and evaluates the new driver's performance.

Some drivers’ training is also spent in the classroom. They learn their company’s rules and regulations, state and municipal traffic laws, and safe driving practices. Drivers also learn about schedules and bus routes, fares, and how to interact with passengers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Some new bus drivers can earn their CDL during on-the-job training. The qualifications for getting one vary by state but generally include passing both knowledge and driving tests. States have the right to not issue a license to someone who has had a CDL suspended by another state.

Drivers can get endorsements to a CDL that reflect their ability to drive a special type of vehicle. All bus drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement, and school bus drivers must also have a school bus (S) endorsement. Getting the P and S endorsements requires additional knowledge and driving tests administered by a certified examiner.

Many states require all bus drivers to be 18 years of age or older and those who drive across state lines to be at least 21 years old.

Federal regulations require interstate bus drivers to pass a physical exam and submit to random testing for drug or alcohol abuse while on duty. Most states impose similar regulations. Bus drivers can have their CDL suspended if they are convicted of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle or of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Other actions also can result in a suspension after multiple violations. A list of violations is available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Most bus drivers are required to undergo background checks before they are hired. 

Advancement

Opportunities for promotion are generally limited, but experienced drivers may become supervisors or dispatchers. Some veteran bus drivers become instructors of new bus drivers.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Bus drivers regularly interact with passengers and must be courteous and helpful.

Hand-eye coordination. Driving a bus requires the controlled use of multiple limbs on the basis of what a person observes. Federal regulations require drivers to have normal use of their arms and legs.

Hearing ability. Bus drivers need good hearing. Federal regulations require the ability to hear a forced whisper in one ear at five feet (with or without the use of a hearing aid).

Patience. Because of possible traffic congestion and sometimes unruly passengers, bus drivers are put in stressful situations and must remain calm and continue to operate their bus.

Physical health. Federal and state regulations do not allow people to become bus drivers if they have a medical condition that may interfere with their operation of a bus, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy. A full list of medical reasons that keep someone from becoming a licensed bus driver is available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Visual ability. Bus drivers must be able to pass vision tests. Federal regulations require at least 20/40 vision with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye and the ability to distinguish colors on a traffic light.

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Average Salary
$33,192
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
183,009
Job Openings

Bus Driver Career Paths

Top Careers Before Bus Driver

Cashier
14.3 %
Driver
10.5 %

Top Careers After Bus Driver

Driver
20.8 %

Bus Driver Jobs You Might Like

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Bus Driver

Bus Drivers in America make an average salary of $33,192 per year or $16 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $40,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $26,000 per year.
Average Salary
$33,192
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Oakland, CA
Salary Range35k - 44k$40k$39,989
Albany, NY
Salary Range34k - 45k$39k$39,289
Fargo, ND
Salary Range34k - 43k$39k$38,760
Neptune, NJ
Salary Range31k - 43k$37k$37,273
Grand Junction, CO
Salary Range31k - 40k$36k$35,711
Nashua, NH
Salary Range31k - 40k$35k$35,475
$18k
$45k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Bus Driver
Bus Driver
Management and Training
Management and Training
05/31/2021
05/31/2021
$27,13105/31/2021
$27,131
Bus Driver/Custodian
Bus Driver/Custodian
McSwain School District
McSwain School District
05/30/2021
05/30/2021
$38,33005/30/2021
$38,330
Bus Driver Rovers
Bus Driver Rovers
Park City School District
Park City School District
05/30/2021
05/30/2021
$40,98905/30/2021
$40,989
Bus Driver
Bus Driver
College Station ISD
College Station ISD
05/30/2021
05/30/2021
$34,43605/30/2021
$34,436
2 Bus Driver
2 Bus Driver
Springfield Public Schools
Springfield Public Schools
05/30/2021
05/30/2021
$35,47905/30/2021
$35,479
See More Recent Salaries

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Bus Driver Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Bus Driver. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Bus Driver Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Bus Driver resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Bus Driver Demographics

Gender

male

48.5 %

female

47.9 %

unknown

3.5 %

Ethnicity

White

68.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.7 %

Black or African American

10.8 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.5 %

French

6.9 %

Arabic

3.0 %
See More Demographics

Bus Driver Education

Majors

Business
22.4 %

Degrees

Certificate

32.6 %

High School Diploma

26.0 %

Associate

15.8 %
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Bus Driver That You May Like

Road Traffic Safety in Automotive Engineering
edX (Global)

Engineers in the automotive industry are required to understand basic safety concepts. With increasing worldwide efforts to develop connected and self-driving vehicles, traffic safety is facing huge new challenges. This course is for students or professionals who have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or similar and who are interested in a future in the vehicle industry or in road design and traffic engineering. It's also of value for people already working in these areas who...

OSHA Safety Pro: Personal Protective Equipment
udemy
4.5
(1,307)

Impress management or get that job with you your ability to display life and dollar saving work place safety practices...

Customer Service Mastery: Delight Every Customer
udemy
4.5
(8,824)

Master Customer Service using this practical customer care course...

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Top Skills For a Bus Driver

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 21.7% of bus drivers listed cdl on their resume, but soft skills such as customer-service skills and patience are important as well.

Best States For a Bus Driver

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a bus driver. The best states for people in this position are Washington, Maine, Connecticut, and California. Bus drivers make the most in Washington with an average salary of $40,875. Whereas in Maine and Connecticut, they would average $40,708 and $40,223, respectively. While bus drivers would only make an average of $39,076 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Wisconsin

Total Bus Driver Jobs:
4,786
Highest 10% Earn:
$48,000
Location Quotient:
0.99
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Kentucky

Total Bus Driver Jobs:
6,128
Highest 10% Earn:
$45,000
Location Quotient:
1.9
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Iowa

Total Bus Driver Jobs:
4,800
Highest 10% Earn:
$45,000
Location Quotient:
1.51
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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How Do Bus Driver Rate Their Jobs?

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3.0

School bus driver for special needs childrenOctober 2019

3.0

Zippia Official LogoSchool bus driver for special needs childrenOctober 2019

What do you like the most about working as Bus Driver?

Providing safe and reliable transportation for people Show More

What do you NOT like?

Rude, disrespectful individuals who do not respect the driver and driver's aide ,not following the rules of ridership and respect for others. Show More

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Top Bus Driver Employers

1. First Student
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$33,293
Bus Drivers Hired: 
2,695+
2. Durham School Services
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$32,854
Bus Drivers Hired: 
1,293+
3. First Transit
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$32,046
Bus Drivers Hired: 
897+
4. MV Transportation
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$32,888
Bus Drivers Hired: 
641+
5. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$33,698
Bus Drivers Hired: 
397+
6. Greyhound Bus
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$38,628
Bus Drivers Hired: 
230+

Bus Driver Videos

Updated October 2, 2020