Skip to main content

The driving experience brings many people joy. For others, it is a functional skill to get from point A to point B. One type of driver whose time behind the wheel is about more than fun or function is the school bus driver. These individuals are tasked with keeping children safe across America. But how much does a school bus driver make? And what exactly are they responsible for?

What does a school bus driver do?

At its simplest, school bus drivers are tasked with driving children between home and school. The responsibilities also occasionally include transporting kids to extracurricular events, like sports, and on field trips. A school bus driver’s job is generally part time, with responsibilities in the morning and afternoon. Many school bus drivers also have limited work during summer vacation.

School bus drivers can either be hired directly by a school district or by contractors who supply buses to the districts. Some school bus drivers may have the option or requirement to join a union.

In addition to the basic duties of driving the bus, school bus drivers must be able to monitor student behavior and discipline as needed to ensure a safe environment. The driver must learn their route and maintain a consistent departure and arrival schedule for the various stops. They are also responsible for conducting emergency evacuation drills and maintaining the cleanliness of the bus.

What skills are needed to drive a school bus?

While no formal education is required to drive a school bus, federal and state regulations require certain things from those seeking employment as a school bus driver. School bus drivers are required to:

  • Have a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Speak, read, and understand English
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have at least 20/40 vision
  • Have at least a 70-degree field of vision in each eye
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Have good hearing
  • Be subject to drug and alcohol testing before being hired and periodically while employed

Some federal requirements will change in the year 2020. For the first time, these regulations will require training before an individual can get their CDL with a School Bus Endorsement. School bus drivers must take a theoretical knowledge learning program and behind-the-wheel training. Approved training organizations must register with a new Training Provider Registry.

Training isn’t the only area that is transforming. The new regulations are also expanding drug-testing policies to include hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. These opioids can now disqualify a driver from securing a license.

In addition to federal requirements, a prospective school bus driver should make sure there are no additional state-specific requirements.

How much does a school bus driver make?

There is no doubt that school bus drivers serve a critical function, transporting some of the world’s most precious cargo every day. The job requires more than simply driving. A school bus is a large vehicle, and its passengers can be loud and unruly. Drivers must be able to maintain focus and handle chaos.

While serving an important function under stressful conditions, bus driver pay is relatively low. The average wage for a school bus driver is $16.02 an hour or $22,262 a year. This job is often accompanied by a nominal bonus in the range of $500. The benefits package often includes insurance and retirement benefits.

There is often a high demand for school bus drivers at the beginning of a school year. August and September are ideal months to secure employment if you are on the hunt for work as a school bus driver.