What's Required to Earn a School Bus Driver Certificate?

There are several important requirements that must be met prior to finding employment as a school bus driver. This article discusses common federal and state regulations required concerning becoming a school bus driver. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


To gain school bus driver licensure or certification, candidates must pass federal and state licensing requirements. The following is a list of school bus driver requirements:

  • Must have a commercial driver's license (CDL)
  • Must be able to speak, read, and understand English
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must have at least 20/40 vision and a 70-degree field of vision in each eye
  • Must have a clean driving record
  • Must have good hearing
  • Must be tested for drugs and alcohol prior to being hired and periodically while hired

Other requirements may be necessary. States are allowed to go above and beyond, but may not go below, federal requirements, so each state may have additional requirements. For example, some states require criminal background checks to be conducted for potential school bus drivers. Also, some credentials are not required, but preferred like a high school diploma.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% (For Bus Drivers)
Median Salary (2018) $34,450 (For Bus Drivers)
Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, patience, hearing and visual ability

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Commercial Driver's License

School bus drivers must follow federal laws concerning obtaining their commercial driver's license. To obtain a CDL, candidates can go to any local department of motor vehicles. There they must pass a written knowledge test and a driving skills test. In addition to the regular CDL requirements, school bus drivers must have two endorsements - passenger and school bus. To obtain these, candidates must pass separate written knowledge tests concerning regulations and rules. In addition, they must then show proof that they can operate the vehicle in separate skills tests.

The U.S. Department of Transportation keeps a nationwide database record of all driving violations by each CDL holder. States are not allowed to issue CDLs to drivers who have already had revoked or suspended licenses in other states.

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