Duties and responsibilities
A school bus driver, also known as a motor coach driver, is a bus driver who is responsible for providing comfortable and safe transportation of children to and from school. Their typical duties and responsibility include:
- Transporting children to and from school in the mornings and afternoons
- Verifying permissions for children who ride home with friends
- Maintaining a clean and mechanically-sound bus at all times. This includes performing inspections of the bus before and after each route
- Ensuring safety of all students (e.g., checking that they are wearing seatbelts)
- Discipline children when required to maintain a safe and healthy environment
- Assisting students with getting on and off the bus when required
- Attending monthly safety meetings
To become a school bus driver, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Typically, you will need to be at least 18 years old and it is likely that you will need to undergo a background check.
You will need to have a commercial drivers license, which you can either achieve prior to applying for roles or try and find roles that offer a CDL as part of their training. All charter bus drivers will have some training that includes practicing various maneuvers with a bus on a driving course. They will begin to drive in light traffic and then eventually make practice runs on the type of route that they expect to drive. School bus drivers must have a school bus (S) endorsement. Getting the S endorsements requires additional knowledge, which is assessed through passing a driving test administered by a certified examiner.
Skills and relevant work experience
School bus drivers should enjoy interacting with children and have an understanding of their needs. They should also have skills such as:
- Communication skills, as school bus drivers have to interact with children on a daily basis and understand their needs
- Organization skills, charter bus drivers need to get children to school on time so they can make their lessons
- Physical health, as some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, may interfere with the safe operation of passenger vehicles.
- Patience, as schools bus drivers must remain calm and composed when driving through heavy traffic and congestion or when dealing with children who are proving difficult
- School us 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 school 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
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.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for school bus drivers was $32,420 in 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,430.
Job prospects are good for school bus drivers are good, with the BLS predicting a 5% growth in employment from 2018 to 2028. This growth is largely a result of an increase in the number of school-age children. However, growth will most likely occur for contracting services that provide school bus transport as more school districts outsource their transportation needs. This means that there should be plenty of employment opportunities for school bus drivers in the future.