School bus drivers typically drive the exact same route every day. They pick up students along their route in the morning and transport them to school. In the afternoon they return them to their bus stops along the same route. Some are responsible for transporting students to and from school sporting events or field trips. Some school bus drivers also work part-time as janitors, mechanics, or classroom assistants in the school system when they are not driving buses. School bus drivers are responsible for maintaining order on the bus and allowing only students to board the bus for safety purposes.
School bus drivers need to stay alert while driving in order to prevent traffic accidents and to avoid sudden stops or swerves that could jar passengers. Some bus drivers are not required to return their bus to a particular terminal or garage. They may be allowed to take their bus home or park it in a convenient spot. School bus drivers never collect fares from passengers. They prepare weekly reports that include the number of students, trips, work hours, miles, and fuel consumption.
School bus drivers must be able to be consistently courteous to student passengers. They should have an even temperament. They need to be emotionally stable because dealing with passengers while operating a large vehicle in traffic can be highly stressful. They should have excellent communication skills. They should have the ability to manage large groups of students.
In 2002, school bus drivers earned a median hourly wage of $10.77. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $6.24, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $16.44. The following shows the median hourly wages in the industries employing the highest numbers of bus drivers:
- School and employee bus transportation — $11.44
- Local government — $11.09
- Elementary and secondary schools — $10.50
- Other transit and ground passenger transportation — $9.79
- Individual and family services — $8.27
Training and Education
The standards for school bus drivers are set by State and Federal regulations. Federal regulations require bus drivers to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the State where they live. CDL requirements include passing a written test on rules and regulations, as well as demonstrating safe bus driving and operation. If an applicant has ever had a driver’s license suspended or revoked, they may be denied a CDL. Bus drivers who operate within a certain State are usually required to be at least 18 years old. For those who operate interstate buses, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires them to be at least 21 years old and to pass a physical examination every two years. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
Drivers are required to have at least 20/40 vision with or without glasses. They cannot be colorblind. They must have good hearing and normal use of arms and legs. They are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing under State regulations. They are also required to be able to read and speak English fluently. Many employers prefer applicants with high school diplomas, and on-the-job training is provided by most employers.
In 2002, school bus drivers held about 430,000 jobs.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of school bus drivers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. The school-age population will have an increased need for transportation. The best opportunities await individuals who have good driving records and who are willing to work part-time or irregular schedules. Competition will remain fierce for higher paying intercity and public transit bus driver positions.