Do You Need a CDL to Drive a School Bus in Pennsylvania?

Do you want to drive a school bus in Pennsylvania? You may be required to obtain pertinent (and legal) documentation to fulfill your desired career.

Being a school bus driver doesn’t only consist of driving children to and from school. It’s a bigger job than one may realize. The position also ensures the children’s safety while on the bus and provides discipline as needed to maintain a safe and orderly on-bus environment.

Before using the bus to pick up children from their homes and drive them to school, the school bus driver inspects the vehicle (such as checking on brakes) to ensure that it is in good condition. That’s part of ensuring safety for the schoolchildren and themself, too.

And even after dropping the kids off back to their own homes after school, the school bus driver’s job is not yet done for the day. They need to check the bus at the end of the route for lost items or sleeping students remaining inside the vehicle. Afterward, they clean and disinfect the bus’s interior to prepare it for the next day’s trip.

A school bus driver should also be attentive to traffic and weather conditions, respond to emergency and non-emergency situations, and report delays, accidents, or emergencies. To further enhance their knowledge of school bus safety, drivers attend safety meetings as required.

As you can see, these are some of the responsibilities of the school bus driver. Do you feel you have what it takes to respond to duties and challenges that a school bus driver typically encounters?

Service-oriented professions typically require a license or other documentation as proof of having completed examinations and training or complying with specific standards. Also, clients tend to trust a professional more if they have a valid license.

So, do you need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to become a school bus driver in Pennsylvania?

The answer is: yes – in fact, this applies to all states in the US. Specific requirements for licensing and endorsements in Pennsylvania may differ from those of the other states. To become a professional school bus driver in Pennsylvania, one must have a CDL plus endorsements to drive a passenger vehicle (P) and drive a school bus (S). So, before you begin the process, you should check or visit your local driver’s license office and the school district where you want to work.

To obtain a CDL in Pennsylvania, you must have the following minimum requirements:

  • You must have a Pennsylvania Driver’s License.
  • You must certify that you agree with the state’s motor carrier safety regulations.
  • You must provide a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate.
  • You must provide any proof of your identity.
  • You must provide any proof of your residency in Pennsylvania.
  • You must provide your Social Security number.
  • You must prepare fees for CDL processing.

Here are the other requirements and examinations to obtain a CDL:

  • Physical examination
  • You must pass a vision test (each eye needs to be 20/40).
  • You must distinguish different colors (which is necessary to recognize traffic signs, for instance).
  • You must be able to hear a forced whisper at a distance of at least five feet.
  • You have a maximum allowable blood pressure of 160/100. Use of prescription medication to achieve this point is allowed.
  • If you have diabetes, you can control it through diet or medication. But managing your diabetes through insulin injections is not permitted.
  • Your blood sugar should not reach higher than 200.
  • You do not use habit-forming drugs, e.g., narcotics, amphetamine, Schedule 1 drugs.
  • CDL Knowledge Test – it includes general knowledge questions about driving regulations in Pennsylvania.
  • CDL Road Skills Test includes real-life and on-hand driving skills tests, a pre-trip inspection of vehicles, general maneuvering, and vehicle parking.

For more detailed information, go to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Commercial Driver’s License FAQ.