Do You Need a CDL to Drive a School Bus?

If you’re interested in working with children and schools, you’ve probably thought about becoming a school bus driver and wondered, “Do you need a CDL to drive a school bus?” The answer is yes. It is one of the few, but essential requirements when applying for jobs as a school bus driver. Not all commercial driving jobs are the same, and there are plenty of opportunities aside from transporting freight across the country in a tractor trailer. If you already have your commercial driver’s license (CDL), the transportation industry will open its doors to you. 

Do You Need a CDL to Drive a School Bus?

Benefits of Getting Your CDL and Driving a School Bus

Driving a school bus can be one of the most rewarding jobs, especially if you like interacting with children. School bus drivers not only transport students and faculty to and from school and special events, but they often develop relationships with the children and families they see every day. Students, parents, and school staff come to see their school bus drivers as friends and trusted figures.

Working as a school bus driver is a gratifying career but requires the right training in order to achieve success and security. Getting your CDL is the first step to becoming a school bus driver. Read on to find out what it takes to jumpstart your career and how Truck Driver Institute’s training program is the best way to begin your journey.

Do You Need a CDL to Drive a School Bus? Everything You Need to Know

Lots of people ask, “Do you need a CDL to drive a school bus?” It’s an important question, but there is so much you need to know before becoming a full-time school bus driver. In order to become a school bus driver, you will need to complete a formal CDL training program, which will include practical instruction, learning about state rules and regulations, and a focus on customer service skills. Once you have a license and the proper certifications, you will be able to apply for bus driving jobs and get hired. With so many truck driving schools available, it can be difficult to understand which school offers the best value and preparation as you look to start a career as a school bus driver.

In addition to obtaining a CDL license, schools will look for passenger and school bus endorsements. Many schools will require a clean background check and successful drug screening in order to hire future school bus drivers. While a college degree is not essential to a successful career as a school bus driver, all school bus driver requirements include needing to obtain a CDL. In addition to school bus driving, there are several other types of truck driving jobs that might surprise you.

What Class CDL Do You Need to Drive A School Bus?

You may be asking, “What class CDL do you need to drive a school bus?” Different states, schools, and employers may ask for different requirements in order to drive a school bus. 

Employers in all states will look for a CDL, but it depends on the requirements of individual states whether you need a Class A, B, or C designation to drive a school bus. However, most states will also look for P (passenger) and S (school bus) endorsements, which show that you have special training. The P endorsement shows that you know how to load and unload passengers and allows you to drive a vehicle with 16 or more passengers. The S endorsement is specifically for school bus drivers, and certification requires a separate road test, written exam, and background check.

Remember, driver’s licenses are issued by each individual state’s respective Department of Transportation. Generally, you will need a Class B CDL to drive school buses, city buses, tourist buses, and private event buses. The additional testing for P and S endorsements can only be gained after your CDL has been completed.

Understanding the Requirements: Getting A CDL to Drive a School Bus

To be hired as a school bus driver in the United States you must:

  • Obtain your CDL from a reputable truck driving school
  • Complete the passenger endorsement (P)
  • Complete the school bus endorsement (S)
  • Complete a successful background check
  • Complete a clean drug screening
  • Be able to speak and read English
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Meet vision and hearing requirements

A completed college degree is not required to land a job as a school bus driver. However, complete formal training through a reputable driving school is essential to finding success and security in your future job hunt. You will need a CDL to drive school buses, and with Truck Driver Institute’s trusted programs, students will be able to learn the federal and state rules, regulations, and skills needed to meet and exceed the requirements to be a school bus driver.

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Do You Need a CDL to Drive a School Bus in Every State?

Each state or employer will have their own requirements to become a school bus driver. It is important when training to check what your state requires by contacting your local Department of Transportation. All employers will look for a CDL, and some will require additional endorsements, driving experience, a health physical screening, a vision test, or other school bus-specific requirements including time spent working with children.

What Qualities Make a Great School Bus Driver?

School Bus Requirements

What’s an Expected Salary?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a six-percent job growth for school and special-client bus drivers from now until 2024. The increasing number of job openings is sure to continue and climb in the coming years. In 2016, there were around 687,200 school bus drivers employed in the United States. The Labor Bureau also estimated that as of 2018, the median pay for school bus drivers averaged at $34,450 a year, or $16.56 per hour. 

Some employment organizations, including ZipRecruiter, have conducted research and shown that more recently, the average weekly pay for a school bus driver has been reported as high as $827 a week.

What to Expect on A School Bus Drivers Test?

Truck Driver Institute will prepare and equip you with tips and resources so that you can take you school bus driver’s test with absolute confidence. For your convenience, we now offer a Class B training course in Indiana.

As you prepare for the written school bus test, you can expect to be tested on several categories, including:

  • Loading and unloading children
  • Safe operation of stop signal devices, external mirror systems, flashing lights, and other warning and passenger safety devices
  • Emergency exit procedures
  • Vehicle inspection

Let TDI Help You Become A School Bus Driver

So, do you need a CDL to drive a school bus? The answer is yes and TDI can help! With countless success stories, TDI is one of the best options for anyone looking to start a career in driving school buses, trucks, commercial vehicles, and more. The professional team at TDI has helped over 90% of TDI graduates find CDL jobs upon graduating. Compared to other driving schools, TDI not only helps prepare drivers but also helps drivers find the right job.

With tens of thousands of some of the nations most qualified licensed truck drivers, TDI has now developed key partnerships with over 20+ carrier partners. TDI graduates are better educated, trained, and prepared to transition into any role they pursue after their graduation. Learn more about TDI’s outstanding training programs and how to get your CDL today.


An exciting, adventurous career in the trucking industry is just around the bend.

Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates.

EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by calling us or filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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