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School Bus Drivers

At a Glance

  • Usually drive the same routes every day
  • Frequently deal with students and teachers
  • Sit for long periods of time
  • Training usually lasts at least four weeks
  • Have a clean criminal and driving record
  • Have a commercial driver's license

Career summary

School bus drivers transport elementary, middle, and high school students to and from school.

School bus drivers usually drive the same routes at the same time each day. They pick up students at their homes or nearby street corners and take them to school in the morning. In the afternoon, they pick up children from school and take them home. Some drivers take students and their teachers on field trips and to sporting events.

Bus drivers maintain order on their buses and enforce school safety rules. They follow local traffic rules. They must always be alert to prevent accidents while driving, especially in heavy traffic or in bad weather.

Bus drivers make trips comfortable by adjusting the heating and ventilation so that students are not too warm or cold. They take care not to jolt passengers with sudden stops.

School bus drivers submit reports every week. These reports list:

Bus drivers maintain their vehicles. They inspect the condition of their buses in the morning and maintain gas, oil, and other fluid levels. They may make minor repairs and report any malfunctions.

Related careers

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to school bus drivers.

Common work activities

School bus drivers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, school bus drivers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

School bus drivers frequently:

It is important for school bus drivers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for school bus drivers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

School bus drivers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a school bus driver, you typically need to:

On-the-job training

School bus drivers receive at least four weeks of driving instruction and classes. You learn state and local laws, rules, and policies for operating school buses. You also study safe driving practices, addressing the needs of students with disabilities, and first aid. In addition, you learn to deal with students and how to evacuate the bus in an emergency.

During training, you practice driving on closed courses. You practice turns, zigzags, and parking. You start by driving in light traffic and eventually drive in heavy traffic. On your first few runs, an experienced driver instructor accompanies you.

School bus drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL). To qualify for a CDL, you must pass both a written and a driving exam. You also must have a good driving record.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers require school bus drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. They also require drivers to be at least 18 years old and have a commercial driver's license (CDL). Most employers also require drivers to have a state school bus permit. Some employers require school bus drivers to pass a background check. Federal law requires drivers to submit to alcohol and drug tests as a job condition. Drivers take periodic drug-screening tests while they are on duty. In addition, drivers must have good hearing and at least 20/40 vision with or without glasses.

Employers look for school bus drivers who are even-tempered and emotionally stable. Drivers must have good communication skills and be able to manage large groups of people.

Costs to workers

Drivers who belong to a union pay an initiation fee and quarterly dues.


School bus drivers are required to meet minimum training requirements, take a bus operator knowledge and skill test, and get a commercial driver's license (CDL), plus a special endorsement from the State of Washington. Applicants must have a good driving record and 20/40 vision with or without glasses.

For more information on bus driver licensing, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Commercial Driver License (CDL) Program (external link)

PO Box 9030
Olympia, WA 98507-9030


Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


#In Washington, the average entry-level wage for school or special client bus drivers is $13.83 per hour ($2,397 per month).

#Updated ES wage info 07.16 sd

Bus drivers, school or special client (SOC 53-3022)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $14.05 $17.00 $20.47 $23.16 $25.17
Monthly $2,435 $2,946 $3,547 $4,014 $4,362
Yearly $29,230 $35,350 $42,590 $48,180 $52,350
    Bellingham Hourly $16.04 $18.47 $21.37 $23.79 $25.41
Monthly $2,780 $3,201 $3,703 $4,123 $4,404
Yearly $33,356 $38,423 $44,451 $49,479 $52,850
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $16.46 $19.55 $22.54 $24.91 $26.66
Monthly $2,853 $3,388 $3,906 $4,317 $4,620
Yearly $34,218 $40,651 $46,893 $51,803 $55,459
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $12.44 $14.58 $17.91 $19.85 $20.97
Monthly $2,156 $2,527 $3,104 $3,440 $3,634
Yearly $25,882 $30,326 $37,248 $41,284 $43,605
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $15.15 $17.40 $19.81 $22.56 $24.73
Monthly $2,625 $3,015 $3,433 $3,910 $4,286
Yearly $31,504 $36,198 $41,191 $46,936 $51,433
    Longview Hourly $13.77 $17.06 $20.83 $23.49 $25.20
Monthly $2,386 $2,956 $3,610 $4,071 $4,367
Yearly $28,641 $35,483 $43,336 $48,845 $52,404
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $13.74 $17.37 $21.01 $23.93 $25.70
Monthly $2,381 $3,010 $3,641 $4,147 $4,454
Yearly $28,570 $36,120 $43,693 $49,775 $53,442
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $12.62 $15.08 $18.55 $22.42 $24.89
Monthly $2,187 $2,613 $3,215 $3,885 $4,313
Yearly $26,247 $31,354 $38,580 $46,626 $51,758
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $15.46 $19.90 $22.62 $25.07 $28.03
Monthly $2,679 $3,449 $3,920 $4,345 $4,858
Yearly $32,167 $41,384 $47,049 $52,151 $58,298
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $13.90 $15.40 $17.71 $20.85 $23.70
Monthly $2,409 $2,669 $3,069 $3,613 $4,107
Yearly $28,893 $32,019 $36,843 $43,381 $49,303
    Vancouver Hourly $12.34 $15.87 $18.24 $21.00 $23.87
Monthly $2,139 $2,750 $3,161 $3,639 $4,137
Yearly $25,663 $32,995 $37,945 $43,680 $49,656
    Walla Walla Hourly $15.93 $17.20 $19.11 $21.35 $23.75
Monthly $2,761 $2,981 $3,312 $3,700 $4,116
Yearly $33,123 $35,777 $39,748 $44,403 $49,383
    Wenatchee Hourly $16.69 $18.03 $20.22 $23.16 $25.19
Monthly $2,892 $3,125 $3,504 $4,014 $4,365
Yearly $34,732 $37,503 $42,052 $48,154 $52,380
    Yakima Hourly $12.38 $16.00 $20.02 $22.91 $24.70
Monthly $2,145 $2,773 $3,469 $3,970 $4,281
Yearly $25,744 $33,275 $41,648 $47,641 $51,368
United States Hourly $9.13 $11.86 $15.58 $19.49 $23.76
Monthly $1,582 $2,055 $2,700 $3,378 $4,118
Yearly $19,000 $24,670 $32,420 $40,540 $49,430

Wages vary by school district, bus size, and the driver's level of experience.

In most occupations, only workers who work full time receive benefits. This is not true for school bus drivers. Most school bus drivers work part time, but almost all of them receive benefits. Most receive sick leave and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan. However, school bus drivers usually do not receive vacation pay, because they do not work when schools are closed.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Bus Drivers, School (SOC 53-3022)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 15,319 14.1% 16.1% 2,384
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 805 16.3% 13.4% 130
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 708 4.8% 8.6% 93
    Benton and Franklin Counties 572 7.2% 15.0% 77
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 621 11.0% 11.9% 92
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 1,251 14.2% 15.2% 196
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 1,589 12.4% 14.1% 240
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 779 18.0% 14.6% 128
    King County 3,828 18.7% 19.6% 644
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 703 20.9% 13.8% 122
    Pierce County 1,729 16.5% 15.2% 280
    Snohomish County 1,207 15.1% 12.4% 191
    Spokane County 947 3.5% 13.9% 121
United States 497,500 4.3% 5.2% 66,300

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will remain steady as the population of school age children is predicted to increase. Thus, more school bus drivers will be needed to transport them to and from school. Growth in this occupation may be slowed by budget limitations.

Job openings will occur as people retire or leave the occupation for other reasons.

Other resources

National School Transportation Association (external link)
623 N Broad Street
Lansdale, PA 19446


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational clusters