A CDL, or commercial drivers license, is mandated by federal law and administered on the state level for school bus drivers and for drivers of most large vehicles. In addition, a specific "S" endorsement for school bus drivers is required, demonstrating that these drivers have gained the specialized knowledge and techniques to transport school passengers. This particular endorsement separates the class of license for other large vehicles from one for transporting passengers. You can study and pass your state's test for a school bus CDL license.
Contact the local office of your state driver's license examiner. In some states this is called the department of motor vehicles, in others it is the secretary of state. Request the school bus driver licensing requirement documentation for your state. A packet of informational materials including the federal guidelines and specific requirements for your state should be available. Obtain information on testing, who performs the testing, what number of hours of driving time is required to be able to take the test, and if third party testing is given or a state licensing official performs the test.
Visit the school district office where you plan to seek employment. Ask about the department of education's bus driver training program for your state, or if the school district provides internal training. Most states have a specific program requirement for bus drivers, with some districts including special requirements in addition to state mandates.
Choose a school bus driver certification program based on either the one required or offered by your state education department or an accredited third party training program. If you choose a third party program, verify these credentials with your state and local school district.
Attend the training program, take notes and complete your homework and assignments. Testing for the school bus CDL endorsement knowledge and skill testing, including your ability to operate the vehicle safely and professionally.
Study the materials required to obtain a CDL C Class license with a school bus "S" endorsement. The CDL license with "S" endorsement is a specialized license, requiring the bus driver to pass the knowledge and skills test according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Practice and study the information at every opportunity. If additional time is offered to practice with the equipment by your training provider utilize that advantage to perfect your skills. Take practice tests to determine your level of readiness for the written portions of the exam prior to taking the test itself.
2016 Salary Information for Bus Drivers
Bus drivers earned a median annual salary of $32,660 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, bus drivers earned a 25th percentile salary of $24,730, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $41,530, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 687,200 people were employed in the U.S. as bus drivers.