California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Bus Drivers, School or Special Client in California

May also be called: School Bus Operators; Special Education Bus Drivers

What Would I Do?

School Bus Drivers operate gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, or electric school buses to transport students from their neighborhoods to schools or school activities. They must be alert to prevent accidents, maintain order on their buses, and escort prekindergarten through eighth grade students across roads.

All buses are heated and some are air-conditioned; however, Drivers experience heat, cold, rain, and wind because they frequently open the door and escort students across roads and highways. Most School Bus Driver positions are part time. Many Drivers work 20 hours per week or fewer and split their time between morning and afternoon shifts. Most Drivers work a ten-month year; however, some districts have year-round sessions.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of School Bus Driver may appeal to those who enjoy working independently outdoors, driving, and working with children. This occupation involves practical, hands-on problems and solutions, working with details, and activities that do not require working closely with others.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2016 for Bus Drivers, School or Special Client in California is $34,830 annually, or $16.75 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits for full-time Drivers generally include sick leave, medical and life insurance, and retirement programs. Part-time Drivers may receive fewer benefits. School Bus Drivers on permanent status enjoy paid holidays that occur during school sessions.

What is the Job Outlook?

The number of School Bus Drivers is expected to increase as a result of growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, but not at a high rate due to the slowdown in the growth rate of school enrollment. Individuals who have good driving records and who are willing to work a part-time or irregular schedule will have the best job prospects.

How Do I Qualify?

Employers usually require a high school diploma. The legal minimum age is 18 to drive a bus within the State. Drivers over 65 years old must pass an annual medical exam, while those under 65 years must pass the medical exam every two years. All employers require drug testing prior to hiring and continue to test employees randomly after hire.

Applicants must complete a training program to qualify to take the exam for the school bus certificate. Training is given by school districts, private school bus contractors, or private schools.

School Bus Drivers in California must obtain a California School Bus Drivers Certificate Class "A" or "B" Commercial Driver License with a "P" passenger endorsement and an "S" school bus endorsement, a first-aid certificate, and a medical certificate. The Department of Motor Vehicles initiates the application process, send the applicants to the California Highway Patrol for additional testing, then issues the license.

Finding a Job

Job seekers should apply directly to school districts, private schools, or school bus contractors. They may also want to check newspaper help wanted ads and public education Internet job search sites. In addition, network with Drivers who are currently working.

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Bus Drivers, School or Special Client