What Are the Duties and Job Description of a Bus Driver?

Explore the career requirements for bus drivers. Get the facts about training requirements, licensure, career outlook and salary 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 Bus Driver?

A bus driver is trained to drive a bus, and may work for private clients, transportation services and schools. Their primary responsibility is to follow an assigned route and pick up passengers along that route. They take these passengers to specified destinations along their route. Their responsibilities include keeping to the operating schedule for their routes, obeying traffic laws and assisting clients with disabilities. They are responsible for basic maintenance, including checking the vehicle's oil, tires and lights, in addition to keeping the bus clean.

Degree Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Alertness, physical stamina, hand-eye coordination, customer service
Licensure A commercial driver's license is required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%*
Median Salary (2015) $38,290 (for all transit and intercity bus drivers); $29,490 (for all school or special client bus drivers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Bus Driver?

When you work as a professional bus driver, your primary responsibility is to transport individuals from one location to another. You typically travel either a predestined route or you may drive to a single long-distance location. Your job duties include stopping to let passengers board and de-board, collecting fares, interacting with customers, and maintaining order on your bus. You must know your route well, stay alert in bad traffic or weather conditions, and follow safety rules of the road.

What Types of Buses Might I Drive?

If you find a position as an intercity bus driver, you are responsible for driving buses along a certain route in the same city. You make stops at pre-determined locations to let passengers on or off the bus. In large cities, these bus stops generally appear once every two blocks or so.

If you work as a transit bus driver, you might be responsible for driving buses from state to state, or even across the country. You could also find a position as a motor coach operator. In such a position, you might drive a bus on a chartered trip to a singular location or take passengers on a sightseeing tour.

You might also find a job as a school bus driver. In such a role, you pick up children from bus stops in the morning and drop them off at an elementary, middle or secondary school. In the afternoon, you complete the same process in reverse, picking students up from school and dropping them off to bus stops near their homes.

What Training and Licensure Do I Need?

You must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) in order to legally operate a bus. Each state has its own qualifications and standards for earning a CDL. Most require you to pass both a written test and a driving test proving you know how to operate a large vehicle. You are also required to earn a passenger vehicle (P) endorsement on your CDL if you want to work as a professional bus driver. School bus drivers need an additional endorsement.

When you find a job as a bus driver, you are generally asked to complete on-the-job training before you can get behind the wheel. Training varies from employer to employer, but many will require you to learn about state driving regulations, safety regulations and passenger interaction. Some will also train you on particular routes or fare collection processes.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 168,000 people had jobs as transit or intercity bus drivers in 2015 (www.bls.gov). These same individuals earned a median annual salary of about $38,290. The BLS found that school or special client bus drivers held over 505,000 jobs in 2015 and earned a median annual salary of $29,490.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Taxi drivers, chauffeurs and delivery truck drivers all have aspects of their work that are similar to the work that a bus driver does. Taxi drivers pick up passengers and deliver them to their requested destination. They are responsible for basic maintenance and the cleanliness of their vehicle, like bus drivers, but they do not follow pre-arranged routes. Chauffeurs also pick up clients and transport them. Like taxi drivers and bus drivers, they need to perform basic maintenance and ensure their vehicle is clean. They are typically hired by private clients or for specific types of services, such as transporting government officials. Delivery truck drivers do not transport people, but they pick up and deliver packages. All of these professionals need to adhere to transit laws and possess driving licenses.

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