School Bus Driver Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for school bus drivers. Get the facts about the day-to-day duties, salary information, education, licensure and training requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a School Bus Driver?

A school bus driver is a transportation professional who drives a bus and transports school children to and from their home and school. They are responsible for following a set route, and stopping at each assigned stop on schedule. They pick up children along their route and transport these children to their school. School bus drivers are responsible for following all traffic laws, performing basic maintenance on their bus, and for staying on schedule. They need good eyesight so that they can operate their vehicles safely and avoid pedestrians and other vehicles, and they also need patience, as they may have to deal with traffic issues during their route. School bus drivers work during the school year, and have all non-school days and scheduled school breaks off from work.

Degree Required High school diploma or G.E.D. (recommended)
Key Responsibilities Safely pick up and deliver students, discipline, maintain order
Licensure Commercial driver's license (CDL) and clean driving record
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%
Median Salary (2015)* $29,490

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a School Bus Driver?

When you work as a school bus driver, your primary responsibility will be to pick students up from bus stops near their homes each morning and deliver them to school on time. In the afternoon, you pick students up from school and deliver them back to their homes or neighborhoods. You must be able to drive the same routes on a consistent schedule day after day.

You might have some additional duties as a bus driver, such as driving sports teams to games in other cities or taking classes of children on field trips. You must also be able to maintain order on a bus. It'll be your responsibility to ensure that pupils board a bus safely and stay in their seats while the bus is moving. You should also be able to safely drive a school bus in bad weather, road or traffic conditions.

What Are the Education and Training Prerequisites?

If you're interested in driving a school bus, the two most important things you'll need are a clean driving record and the ability to drive a large vehicle. Some school districts may prefer to hire bus drivers who have completed high school.

If school districts require you to have any training before you begin working as a school bus driver, they typically provide it on the job. For example, when you first start working as a school bus driver, you'll need to learn how to safely operate a bus, as well as to keep a record of passengers and miles logged. You'll also need to memorize bus routes from the school to various neighborhoods.

Will I Need a Special License?

You'll be required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) from your state's Department of Motor Vehicles before you can work as any type of bus driver. You must also earn both a passenger vehicle endorsement and a school bus vehicle endorsement. In order to earn the endorsements, you must complete a multiple choice examination on the laws of the road and the skills needed to drive a school bus.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

Over 505,000 individuals worked as school or special client bus drivers in the United States in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Some of the top-paying states for bus drivers at that time included North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New York and Alaska. The median annual salary in 2015 was $29,490.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that transit bus drivers do is very similar to the work of school bus drivers. They also need a CDL license and they follow an established route and pick up and drop off passengers. The key difference is that passengers may be getting on and off throughout the entire route, while school bus drivers only drop students off at school in the morning or at their homes in the afternoon. Taxi drivers also perform similar duties, because they are responsible for picking up passengers, transporting them safely, and delivering them to their destination. All of these transportation workers need to follow traffic rules, perform basic vehicle maintenance and keep their vehicles clean.

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