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How Do I Become a Bus Driver?

School buses are primarily used to shuttle students to and from school.
A charter bus.
A bus driver must pass a physical exam.
Bus drivers typically need a special driver's license.
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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2014
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The primary responsibility of a bus driver is to safely transport people on a daily basis. In deciding to become a bus driver, a person needs to be detail-oriented, have good eyesight, and be able to remain alert at all times while driving. Another good attribute to have is patience. Bus drivers tend to deal with adults and children from all walks of life and should be able to handle any situation that may happen while driving.

A bus driver can specialize in driving one of two types of buses. Intercity and transit buses are used to regularly route people within specified metropolitan areas. They can also be used for tour buses. School buses are generally used to transport children to and from school and school-related activities. Specific requirements from school or intercity bus companies may vary, however, both require a person to learn first aid and be knowledgeable with emergency evacuation procedures.

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In order to become a bus driver in the United States, you must first obtain your Commercial Driver's License (CDL). There are two types of CDLs, Class A and Class B. A class A CDL allows a driver to drive trucks and haul trailers of any size. A class B CDL allows the driver to drive a truck of any size but not a trailer of any size. Sometimes a driver needs to take additional testing to have specific endorsements added to their license. To become a bus driver, a person is required to have further testing after acquiring the regular Class B CDL, in order to add the passenger endorsement. A passenger endorsement allows a driver to haul 16 or more passengers at any given time.

Many driving schools offer a class for bus drivers that last approximately 120 hours or three weeks. Federal and state government regulations are different with each state regarding bus driver qualifications and standards. Classroom training provides information on how to drive a bus and take a written exam. A person is required to complete a written exam and prove their knowledge of bus driving rules and regulations.

After successfully completing the written exam, a driver is then placed in driver training. Driver training teaches the basic skills of operating a bus. This is normally done on school grounds. Once the driver is comfortable and has mastered the basic abilities, his training is then moved to on-the-road training in which he must also pass a driving test.

In order for a person to become a bus driver, she must pass a physical examination, including hearing and vision tests. The driver must also meet specific age requirements according to the state she is applying in. Driving a school bus requires both a written exam and driving exam that pertain to school buses specifically, in addition to the regular testing for a Class B CDL.

Information on how to become a bus driver can be found at any state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They will supply the specific information needed for that particular state, including how to apply for a CDL and each type of endorsement.

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