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Bus Driver Career Guide

A career as a bus driver is one that require patience and good physical health, but is one that is expected to offer an increasing number of employment opportunities over the coming years. To become a bus driver, you must be over the age of 18 and have a high school diploma. You will receive on the job training, where you will learn and develop all the skills you need to thrive as a bus driver!

Serving as a school bus driver is a very rewarding job. The driver is someone that the kids see everyday before they go to school and every afternoon when they go home. It is also a great job for a parent who wants to have some income and be around when the kids are off to school.

James Woods

Bus Driver Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Bus Driver Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Bus Driver field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33634 Bus Driver Female 31 $27,000 Pulaski, NY 01/01/2010

Overview

What a bus driver actually does

A bus drivers work for the government, school districts or private transport companies to operate either private or public public transportation vehicles (i.e., buses). Regardless of who bus drivers work for, they can expect to carry out duties such as:

  • Transporting passengers on scheduled routes. These passengers might be hospital patients, elderly people or schoolchildren
  • Making scheduled stops to pick up and drop off passengers
  • Checking that passengers have paid to board the buss
  • Helping passengers with difficulties get on or off the bus
  • Driving legally and safely in accordance to state and federal regulations
  • Monitoring the vehicle parts to ensure they are maintained well and are safe
  • Dealing with antisocial behaviour on the bus

Why they are needed

Bus drivers are need to help move people around. Whether it’s getting children to school, people to work or elderly people to hospital, busses offer an inexpensive and efficient transportation method – and bus drivers are needed to drive the busses around.

Pros and cons of a career as a bus driver:

Pros:

  • There is minimal training required, making it an accessible career to most
  • While benefits vary job to job, many busy drivers, even the ones who work part-time, are often eligible for health insurance, life, dental and retirement benefits, which are typically reserved for full time employees in other professions
  • There is the opportunity to work part-time, which offers flexibility
  • You get to interact with and meet different types of people everyday, which makes it a fulfilling and rewarding job

Cons:

  • It can be stressful and frustrating as bus drivers might face circumstances that are out of their control (e.g., road traffic accidents) that cause delays
  • Bus drivers might have to work with difficult clients who are intoxicated, rude or abusive
  • Bus drivers may have to work long or antisocial hours, such as weekend or evenings
  • There is a lot of responsibility to driving a bus filled with passengers

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of bus drivers, transit and intercity is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

New Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are expected to open throughout the country, which should create additional employment opportunities. Intercity bus travel that picks up passengers from curbside locations in urban downtowns should continue to grow. This form of travel is expected to remain popular due to the inexpensive fares and passenger amenities, such as Wi-Fi.

Similarly, as more school districts outsource their transportation needs, employment growth for school bus drivers will likely be in companies that districts contract with to provide school bus services. Similarly, the demand for special-needs transportation will continue to rise because of an increase in older age groups, which typically are more likely to require these services than are younger groups.

Career paths

To become a bus driver, you will typically need to be at least 18 years old (those who drive across state lines need to be at least 21 years old), undergo a background check and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Once employed, bus drivers can expect to get 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training. However, if you have already have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) may have a shorter training period.

Bus driver training includes practicing various maneuvers with a bus on a driving course. After bus drivers have proven they are able to do this, they will begin to drive in light traffic and then they will eventually make practice runs on the type of route that they expect to drive. New drivers will make regularly scheduled trips with passengers while accompanied by an experienced driver who gives tips, answers questions, and evaluates the new driver’s performance.

All bus drivers must have a commercial drivers license (CD). You can either achieve this separately before applying for bus driver roles, or you can earn your CDL during on-the-job training. Qualifications vary by state but generally include passing both knowledge and driving tests.

After achieving the relevant licensure, bus drivers can decide what area they would like to specialize in (e.g., school bus driving, private hire, tours). All bus drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement on their CDL, and school bus drivers must also have a school bus (S) endorsement. Getting the P and S endorsements requires additional knowledge, which is assessed through passing a driving test administered by a certified examiner.

In accordance to federal regulations, interstate bus drivers must pass a physical exam every 2 years and are subject to random drug or alcohol testing. Bus drivers may 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 drugs or alcohol. Actions such as excessive speeding or reckless driving also may result in a suspension.

Example Job Titles for Bus Driver

Below is a list of common job titles in the Bus Driver field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for bus drivers (transit and intercity) was $43,030 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,810. The highest paying employers were the local government, where the median annual salary was $53,370. This is followed by interurban and rural bus transportation ($39,900 per annum), urban transit systems ($39,860 per annum) and the charter bus industry ($33,340 per annum).

The median salary per annum for school and employee bus transportation was $36,530, with elementary and secondary school drivers earning a median salary of $32,290 per annum.

Autonomy and Flexibility

Most bus drivers do not have much autonomy and flexibility. This is because bus drivers have to follow a strict schedule of drop off times and locations. Although part time work is available, when at work, there is little flexibility as bus drivers will often have to complete their shift and return the bus to the depot.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states in 2020 to be a bus driver, based on average wage a number of jobs available per capita, were:

  1. West Virgina, where the average annual salary was $37,086
  2. Missouri, where the average annual salary was $38,763
  3. Mississippi, where the average annual salary is $38,580
  4. Nebraska, where the average annual salary is $39,098
  5. Kentucky, where the average annual salary is $36,518

According to Zippia, the worst states to be a bus driver were Vermont, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Hawaii and Florida.

Work environment

The largest employers of bus drivers, transit and intercity were the local government, which hired 38% of all bus drivers in the united states. Urban transit systems hired 15%, the charter bus industry hire 9% and interurban and rural bus transportation hired 5%. For school bus drivers, the largest employers were elementary and secondary schools (local).

Being a bus driver can be a stressful working environment. This is because driving through heavy traffic or bad weather and dealing with unruly passengers can be stressful. Bus drivers will often work alone, which can make it lonely at times.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Bus Driver careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Bus Driver career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Bus Driver.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

The exact personality types that make a successful bus drivers have not been explored. However, it is reasonable to assume that as personal drivers will also need to follow state rules and regulations surrounding driving and they will need to adhere schedules, they will most likely score high on conscientiousness.

To be a successful bus driver, you will need t0 be a responsible driver and therefore have no road traffic accidents. A study found that excitement seeking and aggression had an impact on the number of road traffic accidents due to the driving behaviours they cause. These results imply that to be a successful bus driver, you should display low excitement seeking and low aggression. On a similar note, drivers without driving violations express a higher need for personal control, show significantly less risk-taking in their behaviour, are more conforming and inclined to avoid novel sensations as well as socially-stimulating situations than those with driving violations. Based on the results of this study, drivers who have less accidents, therefore making them more successful bus drivers, are likely to show personal control, less risk-taking behaviour and will most likely be introverted.

Accomplishment and mastery

As bus drivers can qualify relatively easily, there is a sense of skill accomplishment and mastery. However, bus drivers don’t tend to accomplish many more skills after training, which some people might find uninspiring or unfulfilling.

Meaning and contribution

The work of a bus driver has a lot of meaning and contribution to society. Bus drivers help society progress by getting children to school so that they can continue their education, getting people to work to keep the economy afloat and they get people to hospital to help treat illnesses. They also keep the tourism industry booming.

Life fit

Most bus drivers will work full time, but part-time work is common. Some bus driver may work regular hours, while others may work early mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays. For example, school bus drivers will typically work a morning and an afternoon shift with downtime in between. This means that their work hours are often limited. They will also only work during school terms.

Whereas, a bus driver for a commercial tour company or public transport bus will be different. They may work all hours of the day, including weekends and holidays. They may have to spend some time away from home because they will be driving long distances.

Who will thrive in this career?

Those who enjoy social interaction and enjoy travelling around will enjoy being a bus driver, and therefore thrive in this career. Furthermore, those who can work well under pressure won’t become frustrated with the schedule and demands of a career as a bus driver and are therefore more likely to thrive. Finally, if you don’t mind working alone for long periods of time, you will thrive in this career.

Who will struggle in this career?

Those who can’t remain calm under pressure might struggle with the unpredictability of some of the situations a bus driver will face, such as traffic accidents. Similarly, those who aren’t very tolerant of people will struggle with the nature of working as a bus driver, which requires lots of social interaction. Finally, those seeking social and stable hours will struggle with the, sometimes erratic schedule a bus driver will have to work.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as the ability to work solo for long hours, bus drivers must have skills and talents such as:

  • Customer service skills, as bus drivers have to interact with passengers on a daily basis. They must provide excellent customer service, leave a positive impression and be courteous and helpful.
  • Organization skills, as customers rely on bus drivers to stick to schedules and pick them up in a timely and efficient manner
  • Physical health, as some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, may interfere with the safe operation of passenger vehicles.
  • Patience, as bus drivers must remain calm and composed when driving through heavy traffic and congestion or when dealing with rude passengers.
  • Bus drivers must have good hearing (federal regulations require bus drivers to have the ability to hear a forced whisper in one ear at 5 feet, with or without the use of a hearing aid) and good vision (20/40 vision with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye and the ability to distinguish colors on a traffic light).
  • Dexterity, as bus drivers must watch their surrounds and operate a vehicle to avoid hazards. Federal regulations require bus drivers to have normal use of their arms and legs

Education

To become a bus driver, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Typically, you will need to be at least 18 years old (with those who drive across state lines need to be at least 21 years old) and undergo a background check.

Once employed, bus drivers can expect to get 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training. However, if you have already have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) may have a shorter training period. This training includes practicing various maneuvers with a bus on a driving course, beginning to drive in light traffic and then eventually make practice runs on the type of route that they expect to drive.

Certifications

All bus drivers must have a commercial drivers license (CD), which can either be achieved before applying for bus driver roles, or it can be earnt CDL during on-the-job training. Qualifications vary by state but generally include passing both knowledge and driving tests.

All bus drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement on their CDL, and school bus drivers must also have a school bus (S) endorsement. Getting the P and S endorsements requires additional knowledge, which is assessed through passing a driving test administered by a certified examiner.

In accordance to federal regulations, interstate bus drivers must pass a physical exam every 2 years and are subject to random drug or alcohol testing. Bus drivers may 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 drugs or alcohol. Actions such as excessive speeding or reckless driving also may result in a suspension.

How to Become

Summary

A career as a bus driver is one that require patience and good physical health, but is one that is expected to offer an increasing number of employment opportunities over the coming years.

Immediate action

If, after reading this, you have decided that you would like to become a bus driver, then we recommend finding an institution at which you can complete your CDL. This will mean you can get a bus driver role with greater ease.

Education and learning

To become a bus driver, you must be over the age of 18 and have a high school diploma.

Skill development

Bus drivers receive around 3 months of on the job training, where they learn and develop all the skills they need to become a bus driver.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Bus Driver careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33634 Bus Driver Female 31 $27,000 Pulaski, NY 01/01/2010

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