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*Requirements may vary by state and employer.

Becoming a school bus driver is a fulfilling career that offers stability, flexibility, and the opportunity to make a positive impact on your community. If you’re considering this rewarding career path, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to become a school bus driver. Please note that specific requirements may vary by state, school district, and employer.

Step 1: Meet Basic Requirements

To start, ensure you meet the basic requirements for becoming a school bus driver:

  • Age and Education: Most states require you to be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Driver’s License: You must have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record.

Disclaimer: Requirements may differ by state, school district, and employer.

Step 2: Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is essential for driving a school bus. Here’s how to obtain one:

  • Study the CDL Manual: Each state provides a CDL manual that covers the knowledge required for the written exam. The manual includes sections on general knowledge, passenger transport, and air brakes.
  • Enroll in a CDL Training Program: Many community colleges and technical schools offer CDL training programs. These programs provide classroom instruction and hands-on driving experience.
  • Pass the Written Exam: The written exam tests your knowledge of traffic laws, vehicle safety, and CDL-specific regulations.
  • Pass the Skills Test: The skills test includes a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and an on-road driving test.

Disclaimer: Specific requirements for obtaining a CDL may vary by state. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for details.

Step 3: Obtain the Required Endorsements

In addition to a CDL, you’ll need specific endorsements to drive a school bus:

  • School Bus (S) Endorsement: This endorsement is required to transport students. It involves additional training and testing focused on the safety and operational procedures specific to school buses.
  • Passenger (P) Endorsement: This endorsement is required to transport passengers. It ensures you understand the rules and regulations related to passenger transport.

Step 4: Complete School Bus Driver Training

Training programs for school bus drivers include classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training. Here’s what to expect:

  • Classroom Instruction: You’ll learn about state and federal regulations, student behavior management, emergency procedures, and more.
  • Behind-the-Wheel Training: This hands-on training is conducted under the supervision of a certified instructor. You’ll practice various driving scenarios, such as city driving, highway driving, and loading and unloading students.

Disclaimer: Training requirements may vary by state, school district, and employer.

Step 5: Pass Background Checks and Physical Examinations

To ensure the safety of students, school bus drivers must pass background checks and physical examinations:

  • Background Checks: You will undergo a thorough background check to verify your criminal and driving history. Any serious violations or criminal offenses may disqualify you from becoming a school bus driver.
  • Physical Examinations: You’ll need to pass a physical examination to ensure you meet the health and fitness requirements for driving a school bus. This examination typically includes a vision test, hearing test, and overall health assessment.

Disclaimer: The criteria for background checks and physical examinations may vary by state, school district, and employer.

Step 6: Apply for School Bus Driver Positions

Once you have your CDL, endorsements, and training, you’re ready to apply for school bus driver positions. Here’s how to find and secure a job:

  • Research Local School Districts and Companies: Start by researching employers on our site in your area. Many have websites with job listings and application instructions. If there are no employers in your area, contact us and we will assist.
  • Use Job Search Websites: We have listings for school bus driver, attendant and van (non-CDL) positions. 
  • Prepare Your Resume and Application: Highlight your CDL, endorsements, training, and any relevant experience on your resume. Be sure to include any additional certifications, such as first aid and CPR.
  • Prepare for Interviews: Be ready to discuss your driving experience, safety knowledge, and ability to manage student behavior. Employers want to ensure you’re a responsible and reliable candidate.

Becoming a school bus driver is a rewarding career choice that offers stability, flexibility, and a sense of purpose. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can embark on a fulfilling career that makes a positive impact on your community. From obtaining your CDL to completing training and finding job opportunities, each step brings you closer to joining the ranks of dedicated school bus drivers who ensure the safety and well-being of students every day.