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Become A Bus Operator

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Working As A Bus Operator

  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $38,290

    Average Salary

What Does A Bus Operator 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

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How To Become A Bus Operator

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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Bus Operator jobs

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Bus Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

57.1%

Female

40.5%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

80.3%

Hispanic or Latino

11.3%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.5%

French

9.1%

Carrier

5.2%

Turkish

2.6%

Japanese

2.6%

Russian

2.6%

Polish

2.6%

Italian

2.6%

Chinese

1.3%

Uzbek

1.3%

German

1.3%

Somali

1.3%
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Bus Operator Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

20.5%

University of Georgia

6.7%

Strayer University

5.8%

Miami Dade College

5.4%

Montgomery College

5.1%

Essex County College

5.1%

Houston Community College

4.5%

Northern Illinois University

4.5%

Chicago State University

4.2%

American InterContinental University

4.2%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.2%

Ashford University

3.8%

Kaplan University

3.8%

Community College of Philadelphia

3.5%

Camden County College

3.5%

University of the District of Columbia

3.2%

Texas Southern University

3.2%

The Community College of Baltimore County

2.9%

Liberty University

2.9%

Long Beach City College

2.9%
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Majors

Business

25.4%

Criminal Justice

13.1%

General Studies

6.3%

Medical Assisting Services

4.7%

Nursing

4.6%

Psychology

4.4%

Computer Science

4.1%

Health Care Administration

4.0%

Accounting

3.9%

Communication

3.4%

Liberal Arts

3.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.1%

Management

2.9%

Education

2.7%

Electrical Engineering

2.5%

Human Services

2.5%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.4%

Automotive Technology

2.2%

Information Technology

2.2%

Sociology

2.2%
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Degrees

Other

41.6%

Bachelors

22.2%

Associate

15.3%

Certificate

10.1%

Masters

5.7%

Diploma

3.8%

License

1.1%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Top Skills for A Bus Operator

PassengerBusSafetyRulesCustomerServiceSkillsVehicleInspectionsTransportPassengersTrafficRegulationsCDLRoutineBusInspectionsPre-TripInspectionsObeyTrafficLawsMetropolitanAreaPublicTransportationCityBusSafeOperationSafeDrivingBusStopsDefensiveDrivingFareInformationGeneralPublicBusSchedules

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Top Bus Operator Skills

  1. Passenger Bus
  2. Safety Rules
  3. Customer Service Skills
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operated multi passenger bus on multiple routes within the city of Raleigh and the surrounding areas.
  • Utilized safety practices and procedures following established safety rules and regulations and maintained a safe and clean work environment.
  • Utilized excellent customer service skills in providing a relaxed and comfortable patron experience
  • observe all driving regulations, daily vehicle inspections start and end of each shift
  • Operate commercial transit bus to transport passengers over specified routes to local points according to time schedule.

Top Bus Operator Employers

Bus Operator Videos

Bus Operator Safety Training

Jefrick Dean: Bus Operator

Be a Bus Driver

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