A bus driver transports people safely from point A to point B along assigned routes on different buses and services. The types of buses are single-deck, double-decker, minibusses for smaller loads, and coaches for long distances. The types of services are city transit, suburban transit, intercity tours, and schools. There are also different expectations for drivers depending on the job. For example, your commute and your friend’s party bus both have a specialized driver behind the wheel, but one works a set morning route while the other can drive solely at night.
Being a bus driver is perfect for anyone who loves driving and helping out their community while spending lots of time surrounded by people. On this page, we’ll help you understand how to write a proper resume to get you the job you want.
To begin with, let’s understand the three types of resumes.
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Job duties of a bus driver
The primary responsibility of a bus driver is to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers while transporting them to their scheduled destination. The role requires juggling duties like keeping up with a pick-up and drop-off schedule, adhering to routes, maintaining passenger discipline, fixing maintenance problems, and helping passengers get onto the bus.
The following is an overview of the daily responsibilities of a bus driver:
Transporting passengers safely to and from point A to point B.
Following road safety regulations like driving within speed limits, wearing a seatbelt, following traffic signs, and maintaining a safe stopping distance.
Understanding driving requirements depending on bus types, such as between city transit (picking up and dropping off on every city corner), shuttles (requiring strict scheduling), and intercity and interstate coaches (traveling from one city or state to the next, requiring long hours).
Familiarity with the local area and adherence to a bus schedule.
Helping anyone who needs assistance getting on and off the bus.
Making sure passengers pay the fare or have a ticket.
Inspecting mechanical issues such as checking the brakes, tires, signal lights, wipers, and oil and fuel levels before and after each trip.
Reporting to management any delays or accidents using a two-way radio.
Keeping up-to-date with the technological advancements in the industry.
Planning routes when necessary, such as for shuttle drivers that need to pick up each passenger in a different location.
Communicating with passengers any delays, approaching stops, mechanical difficulties the vehicle may be experiencing, among other considerations.
Familiarity with the varying demands of bus types such as fuel cell, battery electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and internal combustion engine buses to be able to drive, inspect, and fix any issues.
Bus driver median salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a fact-finding agency for employees in the U.S., the median pay of a bus driver is $45,900 per year as of May 2020. However, compensation varies according to the type of bus driven and the years of experience.
Top skills for bus drivers
While a bus driver must be an exceptional driver, they must also be great with people, quick problem-solvers, and overall responsible adults. They must demonstrate good customer service and interpersonal skills since this job entails direct contact with the public.
The following is an overview of essential skills a bus driver must have:
- Excellent driving skills A bus driver must skillfully operate large passenger buses while following all safety regulations. The bus driver’s clean Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) should reflect this skill. Their ability to manage all climate conditions safely and on time while also applying defensive driving techniques is of utmost importance.
- Good navigation skills The bus driver must have a good sense of direction and quickly learn to get around in their assigned route or area. They must use technology such as Google Maps and Routefinder Pro to plan routes optimized to cover distance and reduce fuel consumption if their role involves picking up and dropping off passengers in their homes or other locations outside of a daily route.
- Adherence to safety protocols A bus driver must understand safety regulations such as speed limits, safety gears, and passenger limits. They must not have any convictions. They must be prepared to handle emergencies by executing emergency evacuation plans such as evacuating passengers through rooftop exits, identifying nearby hospitals, and communicating quickly with police, fire, and other proper authorities.
- Interpersonal communication A bus driver must have the patience to deal with possibly disorderly passengers, those who need help getting on and off the bus, or any other possible situations that can arise when working directly with customers. They must exhibit emotional intelligence to avoid conflict and potentially dangerous situations between passengers. They also must show a courteous demeanor when greeting and helping passengers.
- Punctuality and attentiveness The bus driver must adhere to pick-up and drop-off times and adjust routes based on traffic and weather conditions. They must make up for delays in the schedule while also avoiding rash driving at any moment. And they must stay alert on the road and avoid any distractions, such as using mobile phones.
- Functional knowledge of basic mechanics If any mechanical failures occur, including flat tires or brake malfunction, the bus driver must quickly fix or report the issue. Basic knowledge of diesel-mechanical tools such as jacks, wrenches, spanners, screwdrivers, and hammers is essential. Also, inspecting vehicle conditions before and after each trip is needed.
- Prompt communication The bus driver must communicate any delays, accidents, or mechanical failures during the trip to management using two-way radio communication equipment. They must convey the need for parts replacement regularly.
Educational requirements for bus drivers
DegreeA bus driver must have a high diploma or a GED as a minimum qualification. While a college degree is unnecessary, bus drivers must be 21 years or older for job consideration.
LicensureIt’s mandatory to attain the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards to become a licensed bus driver. Job priority is given to candidates with a CDL license. Still, some companies offer to pay for the license to anyone interested in the job capable of obtaining one. Since requirements to get licensed vary by state, you must check your local DMV for specific information on requirements for the test to get licensed.
However, you’ll usually have to pass three tests to get your CDL license: a theoretical test, a physical check-up, and a practical driving test. You should also keep in mind that if you’re planning on moving to another state, you might want to wait to get licensed there because it’s illegal to get licensed in multiple states. Because of the differences between state requirements for a CDL, the license you get in one state might not be accepted in another. Another consideration is that most bus driver jobs also have an age requirement of anywhere between 21-26 years old for insurance reasons. So, despite getting your CDL license, if you’re at least 18 years old, you might not be qualified for a bus driver position until you’re at least 21 years old.
In general, the CDL has three classes from which to choose. The classes are divided by the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). In other words, how heavy is the CMV, and how much weight can it tow? The classes are as follows:
Classes and endorsements vary by state, so remember to research them at your local DMV or visit the CDL website to get an overview of the process. It’s of the utmost importance to be clear on which endorsements your state requires because you need to select them when you get your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP).
- Class A: This is the heaviest and most commonly obtained class. With this type of license, you can drive vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more and can tow vehicles with a GCWR of over 10,000 pounds. For bus driving, you must get licensed with a Passenger and an Airbrake endorsement.
- Class B: This is the second heaviest class. This one lets you drive vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more that can tow vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. This class is the most commonly asked for to be a bus driver. As with the previous class, you need to get endorsed for Passenger and Air Brakes.
- Class C: This class is the lightest of the three. Any vehicle carrying passengers or goods, whether single or combination, that doesn’t fall under the weight range of other classes. This class is usually not considered for transit bus drivers but might be considered for small passenger buses. Remember to get your CDL license with a Passenger and Airbrakes endorsement to be qualified for most bus driver positions.
On top of the theoretical and practical CDL tests, anyone wishing to obtain this license must pass the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam. This medical assessment looks at the state of your physical, mental, and emotional health to make sure that you’re physically capable of operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). When you pass the evaluation, the resulting medical card you get must be renewed every two years for your license to be up-to-date. The specifics for the medical exam also vary by state. Contact your local DMV to get details on the requirements in your state. You can also visit the CDL website for an overview of the process.
CertificationsAs mentioned in the previous section, the DOT certification is mandatory to get your CDL license. This certification requires you to get a DOT number, then pass the DOT medical exam and the certification exam. This certification must be renewed every two years to continue working as a driver.
Also, as of Feb. 7, 2022, everyone will have to get formal training that leads to certification before being allowed to take the CDL practical driving test. The certificate must be obtained from a provider approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to sit for the examination. An excellent place to start is to check out the Checklist for Quality Courses offered by the Professional Truck Driver’s Institute (PTDI) and their PTDI certified schools.
Another place to check is the CDL-required courses offered at Richland Community College and HDS Truck Driving Institute.
Another good certification to have is for defensive training. Some nonprofit organizations like the National Safety Council offer Defensive Driving training. This certification increases your credibility as a safe driver, which is why some companies require it.
It’s also beneficial for bus drivers to get certified in first-aid, CPR, and AED in the Red Cross or National Safety Council to effectively intervene in potential medical emergencies passengers may experience.
Bus driver resume-writing tips
To get the job you want as a bus driver, you first need to write a resume that’ll grab the employer’s attention and get you in for interviews.
Follow the writing tips below to write a good resume:
- Emphasize your driving proficiency. To be a bus driver, you must excel at driving. You must be very confident in your skills to be able to drive heavy-duty vehicles safely. Spotlight any achievements you’ve had in related jobs or while training to get CDL licensed. Do you manage to avoid impending accidents consistently? Do you handle emergencies well? Are you adept at diagnosing and fixing mechanical issues? Which driving skills are your most vital points? Put that information in the professional summary at the top of your resume, so it’s the first thing recruiters see.
- Add any relevant driving experience. Many bus driving jobs ask for a minimum of one year of experience operating a bus or, at least, a truck or similar vehicle. It’s essential, then, to detail any previous experience you might have in this field. If you’re concerned because you don’t have prior knowledge or enough experience, use a functional resume format. This format allows you to focus on your skills instead. As the world becomes more and more environmentally conscious, more zero-emission alternatives to diesel buses are being introduced into the market. This presents new challenges for drivers, such as identifying charging stations and frequency of recharging for Battery Electric Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid buses and learning how to inspect and fix these vehicles using cutting-edge technology.
- Be clear and concise. It is essential to keep sentences or phrases in your resume short and precise. Employers spend only a few seconds scanning through each resume. So don’t repeat any skills or responsibilities and keep it simple. To enhance the visibility of your skills and work experience, use numbered lists or bullet points instead of paragraphs. Also, feature your best skills or achievements by including those first. Finally, make sure to proofread your resume. It’s against best practices to submit a resume with grammatical errors, repeated information, and typos. Go over it once or twice, or even better, have friends and family take a look at it too.
What are the most common requirements for a bus driver?
Usually, bus drivers are required to be 21 years old or older, have a Class A or B CDL license with Passenger and Airbrake endorsements, and have at least one year of experience. However, some companies are willing to train you with or without a CDL license. If you have little or no experience, using the functional resume format is best. In this type of resume, you can highlight skills you gained from training and on-the-road practice. This format gives weight to the skills related to your job.
Is a college degree mandatory for a bus driver?
No. Employers do not expect a college degree. However, most organizations require at least a high school diploma or GED, plus one year of experience bus driving.
Can we include our experience in taxi or truck driving?
Yes. You can include taxi or truck driving if that is a part of your previous work experience. But make sure to give priority and visibility to your bus driving expertise.