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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52b8l3plMBE.
Quick Facts: Bus Drivers
2022 Median Pay $44,440 per year
$21.36 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2022 515,200
Job Outlook, 2022-32 3% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 13,300

What Bus Drivers Do

Bus drivers transport people between various places.

Work Environment

Part-time work is common for bus drivers. Drivers’ schedules may vary and include early mornings, evenings, or weekends. Many bus drivers work for schools, and they work only when schools are in session. Driving through heavy traffic or bad weather and dealing with unruly passengers can be stressful for bus drivers. 

How to Become a Bus Driver

Bus drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL), which they sometimes earn during on-the-job training. They also need a good driving record and must meet physical, hearing, and vision requirements. In addition, bus drivers typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent and may be required to pass a background check.

Pay

The median annual wage for bus drivers, school was $41,270 in May 2022.

The median annual wage for bus drivers, transit and intercity was $50,890 in May 2022.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of bus drivers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 76,400 openings for bus drivers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for bus drivers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of bus drivers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about bus drivers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Bus Drivers Do About this section

Bus drivers
Intercity bus drivers transport passengers between cities or towns.

Bus drivers transport people between various places—including school, work, and shopping centers—and across state and national borders. Some drive set routes, and others transport passengers on chartered trips or sightseeing tours. They drive a range of vehicles, from 15-passenger buses to 60-foot articulated buses (with two connected sections) that can carry more than 100 passengers.

Duties

Bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Pick up and drop off passengers at designated locations
  • Follow a planned route according to a time schedule
  • Help passengers, including those with disabilities, get on and off the bus
  • Obey traffic laws and state and federal transit regulations
  • Follow procedures to ensure passenger safety
  • Keep passengers informed of possible delays
  • Perform basic maintenance (check the bus tires, lights, and oil)
  • Keep the bus clean and presentable to the public

The following are examples of types of bus drivers:

School bus drivers transport students to and from school and other activities, such as field trips and sporting events, when the academic term is in session. School bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Ensure the safety of children getting on and off the bus
  • Attend to the needs of children with disabilities
  • Keep order and safety on the bus
  • Understand and enforce the school system's rules of conduct
  • Report disciplinary problems to the school district and parents or guardians

Local transit bus drivers follow a daily schedule while transporting people on set routes along city or suburban streets. They stop frequently, often every few blocks and when a passenger requests a stop. Local transit drivers typically do the following:

  • Collect bus fares or manage fare box transactions
  • Answer questions about schedules, routes, and transfer points
  • Report accidents and other traffic disruptions to a central dispatcher

Intercity bus drivers transport passengers between cities or towns, sometimes crossing state lines. They usually pick up and drop off passengers at bus stations or curbside locations in downtown urban areas. Intercity drivers typically do the following:

  • Ensure that all passengers have a valid ticket to ride the bus
  • Sell tickets to passengers when there are unsold seats available, if necessary
  • Keep track of when passengers get on or off the bus
  • Help passengers load and unload baggage

Charter bus drivers, sometimes called motorcoach drivers, transport passengers on chartered trips or sightseeing tours. Trip planners generally arrange their schedules and routes based on the convenience of the passengers, who are often on vacation.  Charter bus drivers are sometimes away for long periods because they usually stay with the passengers for the length of the trip. Charter bus drivers typically do the following:

  • Regulate heating, air-conditioning, and lighting, for passenger comfort
  • Ensure that the trip stays on schedule
  • Help passengers load and unload baggage
  • Account for all passengers before leaving a location
  • Act as tour guides for passengers, if necessary

Work Environment About this section

bus drivers image
Some school bus drivers make multiple trips if schools in the district open at different times.

Bus drivers, school held about 358,800 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of bus drivers, school were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 51%
School and employee bus transportation 32
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 9
Elementary and secondary schools; private 2
Other transit and ground passenger transportation 1

Bus drivers, transit and intercity held about 156,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of bus drivers, transit and intercity were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 51%
Urban transit systems 15
Charter bus industry 7
Other transit and ground passenger transportation 5
Interurban and rural bus transportation 5

Driving through heavy traffic or bad weather and dealing with unruly passengers can be stressful for bus drivers.

Injuries and Illnesses

Transit and intercity bus drivers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Most injuries to bus drivers are due to vehicle accidents.

Work Schedules

Part-time work is common for bus drivers. Drivers’ schedules may vary and include early mornings, evenings, or weekends.

School bus drivers work only when school is in session, so their work hours are often limited. Some make multiple trips if schools in their district open and close at different times or if students need transportation to other activities.

Intercity and charter bus drivers may make a round trip and go home at the end of each shift. Others spend nights away from home on long-distance routes. The trip or route schedule dictates a driver’s hours.

Bus drivers who cross state lines must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) hours-of-service regulations. Bus drivers are allowed 10 hours of driving time and 15 hours of total on-duty time before they must rest for 8 consecutive hours. Weekly maximum restrictions also apply but may vary by employer schedule.

How to Become a Bus Driver About this section

Bus drivers
All types of bus drivers have to obtain a CDL.

Bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which they sometimes earn during on-the-job training. They also need a good driving record and must meet physical, hearing, and vision requirements. In addition, bus drivers typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent and may be required to pass a background check.

Education

Bus drivers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Bus drivers typically get on-the-job training. Those who already have a CDL may have a shorter training period. For part of the training, drivers may practice various maneuvers with a bus on a driving course. They then begin to drive in light traffic and eventually make practice runs on the type of route that they expect to drive. New drivers make trips with passengers while accompanied by an experienced driver who gives advice, answers questions, and evaluates the new driver's performance.

Some drivers’ training is also spent in the classroom. They learn their company’s rules and regulations, state and municipal traffic laws, and safe driving practices. Drivers also learn about schedules and bus routes, fares, and interacting with passengers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All bus drivers must have a CDL. Some new bus drivers earn their CDL during on-the-job training. Qualifications vary by state but generally include passing both knowledge and driving tests. States have the right not to issue a license to someone who has had a CDL suspended in another state.

Drivers can get endorsements for a CDL that reflect their ability to drive a special type of vehicle. All bus drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement, and school bus drivers must also have a school bus (S) endorsement. Getting the P and S endorsements requires additional knowledge and driving tests administered by a certified examiner.

Many states require all bus drivers to be 18 years of age or older and those who drive across state lines to be at least 21 years old. Most bus drivers must pass a background check before they are hired. Check with your state agency for specific licensing requirements.

Federal regulations require interstate bus drivers to pass a physical exam every 2 years and to submit to random drug or alcohol testing. Most states impose similar regulations. Bus drivers may have their CDL suspended if they are convicted of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle or of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Actions such as excessive speeding or reckless driving also may result in suspension.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Bus drivers regularly interact with passengers and must be courteous and helpful.

Dependability. Passengers rely on bus drivers to pick them up on time and safely transport them to their destination.

Hand-eye coordination. Drivers must watch their surroundings and avoid obstacles and other hazards while operating a bus. Federal regulations require bus drivers to have normal use of their arms and legs.

Hearing ability. Bus drivers need good hearing. Federal regulations require them to be able to hear a forced whisper in one ear at 5 feet, with or without the use of a hearing aid.

Patience. Bus drivers must remain calm and composed when driving through heavy traffic and congestion or when dealing with unruly passengers.

Physical health. Bus drivers must be in good physical condition. Federal and state regulations do not allow people to become bus drivers if they have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, that may interfere with the safe operation of a bus.

Visual ability. Bus drivers must be able to pass vision tests. Federal regulations require at least 20/40 vision with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye and the ability to distinguish colors on a traffic light.

Pay About this section

Bus Drivers

Median annual wages, May 2022

Bus drivers, transit and intercity

$50,890

Total, all occupations

$46,310

Motor vehicle operators

$45,460

Bus drivers

$44,440

Bus drivers, school

$41,270

 

The median annual wage for bus drivers, school was $41,270 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $58,390.

The median annual wage for bus drivers, transit and intercity was $50,890 in May 2022. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,420.

In May 2022, the median annual wages for bus drivers, school in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $45,840
School and employee bus transportation 45,630
Elementary and secondary schools; private 39,560
Elementary and secondary schools; local 39,220
Other transit and ground passenger transportation 38,510

In May 2022, the median annual wages for bus drivers, transit and intercity in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $59,180
Urban transit systems 47,560
Interurban and rural bus transportation 45,540
Other transit and ground passenger transportation 41,410
Charter bus industry 39,950

Part-time work is common for bus drivers. Drivers’ schedules may vary and include early mornings, evenings, or weekends.

School bus drivers work only when school is in session, so their work hours are often limited. Some make multiple trips if schools in their district open and close at different times or if students need transportation to other activities.

Intercity and charter bus drivers may make a round trip and go home at the end of each shift. Others spend nights away from home on long-distance routes. The trip or route schedule dictates a driver’s hours.

Some passenger vehicle drivers receive tips. Those who provide good customer service are more likely to receive good tips than those whose customer-service skills are poor.

Bus drivers who cross state lines must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) hours-of-service regulations. Bus drivers are allowed 10 hours of driving time and 15 hours of total on-duty time before they must rest for 8 consecutive hours. Weekly maximum restrictions also apply but may vary by employer schedule.

Job Outlook About this section

Bus Drivers

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Motor vehicle operators

7%

Bus drivers, transit and intercity

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

Bus drivers

3%

Bus drivers, school

1%

 

Overall employment of bus drivers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 76,400 openings for bus drivers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Schools will continue to rely on school bus drivers to transport students. However, declining student enrollments in public and private schools over the decade may constrain demand for these workers.

Employment of transit and intercity bus drivers is expected to increase as public authorities continue to upgrade their public transportation systems, such as by redesigning bus networks, expanding bus services, and rolling out bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. In addition, intercity bus travel should continue to grow because its inexpensive fares and passenger amenities, such as Wi-Fi, are expected to maintain its popularity as a transportation option.

An increasing population of older adults and people with disabilities will place demand on rural transit services, contributing to a need for drivers of these bus routes.

Employment projections data for bus drivers, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bus drivers

515,200 528,500 3 13,300

Bus drivers, school

53-3051 358,800 363,700 1 4,900 Get data

Bus drivers, transit and intercity

53-3052 156,400 164,800 5 8,400 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bus drivers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2022 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers pick up, transport, and drop off packages and small shipments within a local region or urban area.

High school diploma or equivalent $38,220
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another.

Postsecondary nondegree award $49,920
Train engineers and operators Railroad Workers

Railroad workers ensure that passenger and freight trains operate safely. They may drive trains, coordinate the activities of the trains, or control signals and switches in the rail yard.

High school diploma or equivalent $68,960
Water transportation occupations Water Transportation Workers

Water transportation workers operate and maintain vessels that take cargo and people over water.

See How to Become One $66,100
Taxi drivers shuttle drivers and chauffeurs image Taxi Drivers, Shuttle Drivers, and Chauffeurs

Taxi drivers (including ride-hailing drivers), shuttle drivers, and chauffeurs transport people to and from the places they need to go.

No formal educational credential $32,440

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about school bus drivers, visit

National School Transportation Association

National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services

For more information about transit bus drivers, visit

American Public Transportation Association

For more information about motorcoach drivers, visit

United Motorcoach Association

For more information about federal regulations for commercial bus drivers, visit

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 

Occupational Requirements Survey

For a profile highlighting selected BLS data on occupational requirements, see

Bus drivers, school (PDF)

O*NET

Bus Drivers, School

Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bus Drivers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/bus-drivers.htm (visited December 31, 2023).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.