Is Prior Professional Driving Experience Required to Become a School Bus Driver?

When looking for Pennsylvania school bus jobs, you find out that many school districts and school bus contractors have different requirements. But is a prior professional driving experience required to become qualified as a school bus driver?

A significant responsibility for school bus drivers is transporting students safely to and from school and events (such as field trips and off-campus interschool sports events). A school bus driver is also involved in conducting pick-up and drop-off for students at fixed routes and conducting bus maintenance. Apart from those responsibilities, a bus driver must adhere to traffic regulations.

The student’s safety is always a top priority, and therefore, is the school bus driver’s main responsibility as long as they’re on board. School bus drivers have to drive safely, watch the road and observe traffic regulations. They also have the responsibility for the conduct of students on their buses. It’s a standard for school buses to have a large mirror over the front window that allows drivers to see and monitor the entire bus interior.

Continuing on safety, school bus drivers are also responsible for monitoring the safety of their buses. This is where they conduct regular checks on brakes, tires, turning signals, and other mechanical parts. School districts usually have standard daily checklists by which drivers must confirm that they have inspected various components. Suppose any of these components are found with issues or defects. In this case, mechanics will inspect the bus if it needs repair work, and the driver will use an alternative bus until the original bus is repaired and ready to be used again.

So, as you can see, driving a busload of 50 students every school day is quite a big challenge. Drivers have to make sure that students make it into their schools and their homes safely. That’s why it’s only appropriate that the requirements for a school bus driver in Pennsylvania are pretty stringent.

No matter what the educational background is – whether applicants hold a high school diploma, an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree – a commercial driving license (CDL) is always requiredApplicants must also make sure that their CDL has school bus and passenger endorsements.

But even with previous driving experience, applicants must still complete at least 20 hours of training on school bus safety and operation (including 14 hours in the classroom and 6 hours of training behind the wheel). In addition, they must pass a battery of tests and examinations, including physical and medical tests, a vision test, a road test, and criminal background and child abuse history checks.

Having previous driving experience (preferably commercial driving) is undoubtedly an advantage when applying for a job as a school bus driver. After all, substantial driving skills with a clean driving record mean that you’re fit to drive students to and from school. Remember that the student’s safety is in your hands as long as they’re inside the bus. The article What Training Do You Need to Have as a School Bus Driver in Pennsylvania explains more.

Is school bus driving the next best job for your career path? Check out and explore school bus job openings near your area!