1. School Bus Driver Basic Requirements
How to Get a School Bus Driver's License
To drive a school bus in the U.S., you must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with endorsements for driving a passenger vehicle (P) and driving a school bus (S). The specific requirements for these licenses and endorsements vary among states, so before you start the process you should check with your local driver’s license office as well as the school district where you want to work.
Qualifying for a CDL
Get a physical exam.Federal law requires all commercial drivers, including school bus drivers, to carry a Department of Transportation medical card, which requires a DOT physical. You’ll have to pay a fee for this exam, which you must get before you apply for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Your CLP allows you to practice your driving skills with an experienced commercial driver.
- The physical evaluates whether you are medically qualified to transport students safely. Your state’s CDL manual should have a list of approved physicians to perform this exam.
- After you’ve filled out the top of the with your personal information and medical history, the physician will fill out the results of the examination and determine whether you meet federal physical requirements for commercial drivers.
- Generally, commercial drivers should not have any impairment of hands, arms or legs that would interfere with their ability to grasp the steering wheel or operate a vehicle. Certain conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or arthritis will render you ineligible to become a commercial driver.
- Commercial drivers also must have natural or corrected vision of at least 20/40 in both eyes and the ability to differentiate between red, green and amber traffic lights.
- You also will be tested for drug and alcohol use. Commercial drivers cannot use amphetamines, narcotics or other habit-forming drugs, with or without a prescription.
Go to your state’s driver’s license website or your local office and review the eligibility requirements.Although the federal DOT sets minimum CDL standards, some states have additional regulations.
- You need to bring one or two forms of legal identification, such as a passport or birth certificate, depending on your state’s regulations. Each state also requires proof of state residency and provides a list of documents you can provide as proof to satisfy that requirement.
- Your state driver’s license office will check your driving record for the past 10 years, including every state in which you’ve had a license. Many states require CDL holders to have fewer than four points on their licenses.
- You must be at least 18 years old to get a CDL, but in some states you must be at least 21 years old to drive a school bus.
Pass the knowledge tests.In addition to meeting the general eligibility requirements, you must pass written knowledge tests to earn a CLP. If you want to drive a school bus, you have to pass the general commercial driving test as well as additional tests for the passenger vehicle and school bus endorsements.
- Each knowledge test consists of at least 30 questions covering 20 general areas outlined in the federal CDL regulations. You must answer at least 80 percent of the questions correctly on both the general and endorsement tests to pass.
- Areas tested include procedures for inspection and repair, safe vehicle operations, safety control systems such as lights and horns, vehicle control such as shifting, backing, and skid control, and basic vehicle control and safe driving skills.
- If you plan to drive school buses with air brakes, you also must pass an additional knowledge test on air brake operation.
- The S endorsement written test includes questions on loading and unloading children, proper operation of school-bus specific signal devices, and emergency exits and procedures.
- You must pay a fee to take the written tests, regardless of whether you pass.
Part 1 Quiz
Which is a CDL eligibility requirement?
Getting a CDL
Apply for a CLP.Before you take the skills tests to get a full CDL, you must have a CLP for at least two weeks.
- You may have to pay an additional fee for your CLP. Some states charge a combined fee for the written tests and the CLP. You’ll find a breakdown of all the fees involved in getting a CDL in your state’s CDL manual.
- While you have your CLP, practice all of the maneuvers and activities you’ll have to perform on the skills tests.
- Some states or school districts may have training courses specifically for school bus driver candidates. In other states, additional training is required after you’ve passed the state skills tests for your CDL with P and S endorsements.
- You must take your skills tests before your CLP expires.
Sign up for the general CDL skills test.The three parts of the skills test cover vehicle inspection, basic controls and driving. You must pass all three parts of the test to get your CDL.
- As with the written tests and the CLP, you must pay to take the skills test regardless of whether you pass. Some states charge an additional fee for the CDL itself, while others combine these fees together.
- The pre-trip inspection portion of your skills test will evaluate your ability to correctly point out and evaluate monitoring and warning devices, accurately assess brake system condition and evaluate low pressure warnings, and run an operational check of all required alarms and emergency devices.
- You'll also be tested on your basic skills in controlling the vehicle, including your ability to start, stop and move your vehicle around in a safe manner.
- The third part of the skills test evaluates your safe driving skills. You'll be tested on your visual search methods, the appropriate use of signals, your ability to control the vehicle's speed depending on weather or traffic conditions and appropriately position the vehicle when turning or changing lanes.
Take your test in the vehicle you will be driving.Some endorsements have additional skills that are tested beyond the general skills required to earn a CDL. However, for the passenger vehicle endorsement, all you have to do is take the general skills test in the same class or type of vehicle as that you plan to drive when fully licensed.
- Since you want to be a school bus driver, you’ll take your test in a school bus. This means you'll be tested for your CDL with P and S endorsements all at once.
- Once you’ve passed the skills test, take all of your documentation to your driver’s license office and pay the required fee. In some states you’ll receive your CDL right then, while others mail it to you.
Part 2 Quiz
What are the three parts of the general CDL skills test?
Meeting State-Specific Requirements
Get certified in first aid.Many states require school bus drivers to be certified in basic first aid. Even if it’s not required, the additional certification might improve your chances of being employed as a school bus driver.
- First aid certification can be obtained through the Red Cross, or at a local school or other community organization. There normally is a fee to take the certification course and test.
- Your local high school or district office will have information on whether this is a requirement in your area, and when and where you can take the appropriate course.
Submit a criminal background check.Most states require all potential school bus drivers to undergo a criminal background check with the FBI or a state investigative bureau.
Undergo alcohol and drug testing.Federal and state law in all states require pre-employment testing, as well as random testing during employment or immediately after an accident.
Complete agility training.Some states require school bus drivers to train and pass a test evaluating their agility and ability to assist children in emergency situations.
Practice driving with an experienced school bus driver.Before you can start driving a bus on your own, some states require you to drive a certain number of hours with an experienced driver observing your performance.
Part 3 Quiz
True or False: You will need to pass a drug test to become a school bus driver.
QuestionBefore taking my tests for CDL, do I have to have first aid training?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but it is usually very basic. All school buses in the United States and Canada are required to have first aid kits, body fluid cleanup kits, and an emergency radio.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I report a driver?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can speak to a principal and ask him or her to report the driver. If you have the bus number, you can also contact the school district.Thanks!
QuestionIf I want to add an S endorsement to my CDL class B license, do I need to take the skill test?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn some states, to add an endorsement you need to take both the written and skills tests, even if you have a CDL.Thanks!
QuestionIf I pass the general knowledge test but fail the passenger bus parts, do I have to take all again?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you only have to retake the failed tests parts. Depending on your state, you can retake the test so many times before having to wait a year to retake all parts.Thanks!
QuestionHow many times can I take the CHP bus exam if I've failed it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt varies from state to state, but you can check with your local DMV to find out your state's requirements.Thanks!
QuestionWhat could keep me from driving a school bus?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAny number of things like not passing a test or background check, a criminal record, etc. You can check your state's requirements online.Thanks!
QuestionI have a CDL Class A driver's license. What do I need to do to get a CDL Class B license?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour class A covers classes A,B and C, so you can drive class B commercial vehicles as well, but may need endorsements, depending on what they haul. Endorsements are earned through written knowledge tests.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I drive a school bus if I have my commercial license but not a P & S endorsement?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAt that point, it would depend on the passenger max. of the vehicle you would be driving. If you're driving a vehicle over the maximum number of passengers, you will need those endorsements. Check with your local DMV to find out about obtaining them.Thanks!
QuestionCan I legally drive a school bus with my left foot?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, if you pass the physical performance portion as outlined by State Education Dept.Thanks!
QuestionCan I get a WI school bus drivers license if I have had a DUI?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn just about all states, the answer is no if it is within the last 10 years.Thanks!
The MVD in Arizona let me transfer my out-of-state CDL including passenger and school bus endorsements with no restrictions. Do I have to retake my driving skills test over again for my Cert?
Do I have to retake any tests if I want to transfer my CDL from one state to another to drive a school bus?
Is there a height requirement for driving a school bus?
Where to get the training in michigan?
What is the maximum age in order to drive a school bus in Colorado?
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