Salaries for bus drivers range significantly depending on the sort of bus driven. For example, drivers of urban transport buses can expect to make approximately $15.45 per hour, whereas school bus drivers make less, $13.17; these are median figures offered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Drivers routinely increase their annual earnings by working overtime; a common practice in the industry.*
According to information collected by the Bureau, the top 10% of bus drivers can expect to earn $55,600 annually; benefits such as sick time, holidays and health plans are extremely variable and not calculated into this total. 70% of bus drivers drive school buses, and their salaries are bit lower. The top 10% of these drives make $41,010.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
The licensing of bus drivers is governed by both State and Federal regulations. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required for all commercial motor vehicle operators and is issued by the residential state of the driver. There is both a written exam as well as a practical component. Drivers must pass both exams to have a license issued.
Any violations or citation are registered in a national data base. Individuals who have had their license revoked or suspended in one state may not receive a license in another state. Trainees must be accompanied by fully licensed drivers. Specifics vary by state, so interested parties should check with their State’s licensing bureau.
Many employers prefer that their applicants have at least a high school diploma. Interstate drivers must be 21 years of age, although some companies prefer 24. School bus drivers are usually required to pass a criminal background check as well.
Bus driving schools exist and they last between 2-8 weeks in length. Individual companies frequently require applicants to spend several additional weeks in on the job training specific to the environment in which the driver will be operating.
Bus drivers are responsible for transporting millions of people each day. From commuters to students, their passengers depend upon them to be safe, well trained and well informed. Whether your goal is to drive a school bus, intercity bus, local transit bus or a motor coach you will require specialized training.
Bus drivers must be able to follow a prescribed route, maintain a schedule and negotiate differing levels of traffic density. Many bus companies deploy from a specific garage within the city. Drivers are expected to anticipate their needs for the day and arm themselves with tickets, change, transfers and any other necessary supplies and depart on schedule. Additionally, some companies require their drivers to possess a familiarity with the bus and its operations – conducting regular visual inspections of tires, oil, wiper fluid, cleanliness, emergency equipment and more.
The ideal candidate for this sort of work must enjoy working with people and be able to maintain their composure if confronted by agitated riders. Basic math skills are a must on public routes. Drivers should be punctual, careful and meticulous with record keeping and available for a variety of shifts. Salaries are quite good, even for new drivers, and many bus drivers are members in local or national unions, which provide them with reasonable benefit packages as well.
There is a constant need for bus drivers, and with the nationwide push towards “greener” methods of transportation it is reasonable to believe that bus routes will be increased over the next several years. The estimated rate of growth offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a 6-7% growth over the next 8 years. Most jobs are expected to be within the school bus driving community as urban areas continue to grow. One caveat is that when economic growth is slow, commercial driving attracts more people, increasing competition for jobs.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
To date there are no federally mandated certification required by commercial bus drivers. Different States, localities and employers may have different criteria, usually requiring a medical certificate of good health. Occasionally drivers are also required to obtain a variety of safety training certificates and specific endorsements upon their CDL in order to drive specific types of vehicles.
School bus drivers commonly require a School Bus Driver’s certificate in addition to their CDL as well as certification in First Aid and CPR. It is best to check with the state or the employer in advance to know what may be required upon employment.
Bus drivers routinely belong to a number of local and national organizations. Large city bus services typically have their own bus drivers union for drivers to join. Not all drivers join the local union.
- ASDPTS – The National Association of State Directors of Public Transportation Services provides information, support and motivation for the nations school bus drivers.
- NAPT – National Association for Pupil Transportation is another national level which encourages participation for all parties involved in pupil transportation.
- NSTA – National School Transport
- United Motorcoach Association – provides industry specific information for business owners and drivers
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