School Bus Driver Career Profile

School bus drivers are a cornerstone of our school transportation system because many students depend on the school bus in order to get to school.The services that bus drivers provide are invaluable because they carry our children.

Job Description

School bus drivers can have different kind of routes. They most often work two shifts in a day--before and after school. In the morning, they pick children up from home and drop them off at school. In the afternoon they pick the children up from school and take them back home. Sometimes, they are hired during the day for field trips. Like other bus drivers, they must stick to a strict schedule and obey all traffic regulations. Occasionally, they may have to discipline unruly passengers.

Working Conditions

Except for when they are on a break, bus drivers spend their entire shifts sitting. This can lead to stiffness and back pain. Sitting for such long periods of time requires a great deal of patience. School bus drivers only work part-time (around 15 to 20 hours a week, 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, Monday to Friday). Their schedule is based on the school day.

Driving a school bus is also seasonal work, usually running from September to June.  All bus drivers have to face difficult driving conditions and remain focused on the road for extended periods of time. Their concentration skills must be excellent because they must remain focused while watching students on their buses. Some students cause trouble on the bus and can get in trouble.

Earnings

School bus drivers earn less than other drivers because they work only part-time. Most start at around $25 to $50 a day. This can increase with experience (to as much as $90 a day in some high-demand areas), but many school bus drivers take a second job to supplement their income. Trainees are usually paid the least, and may receive less than $12 an hour while they learn the ropes. Senior drivers working for large companies can earn as much as $55,000 a year. Overtime is common within this profession.

Education & Training

Depending on the type of bus you wish to drive and local requirements, you may need a high school diploma. However, whether a diploma is required or not, it is a good idea to complete one to remain competitive with other applicants. Bus drivers must have a special driver's license. In most provinces, drivers need to have a Class 2 license. Bus drivers must also have clean driving records and several years of driving experience. 

Most bus drivers will have to pass a medical examination, and possibly a written exam to test reading and writing skills. Many companies also require their drivers to have first aid certificates and pass background and drug screening tests. Once they get a job, drivers usually receive 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training, possibly including classroom instruction, before they are ready to drive routes by themselves.