California Occupational Guides

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Detailed 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 are an integral part of the largest mass transit program in the country. They usually drive the same routes each day, stopping to pick up students in the morning and returning them to their homes in the afternoon. This may include escorting small children across roads and highways. Several School Bus Drivers also transport students and teachers on field trips or to sporting events. In addition to driving, some work part time in the school system as janitors, mechanics, or classroom assistants when not driving buses.

Drivers must be alert to prevent accidents and to avoid sudden stops or swerves that jar passengers, especially in heavy traffic or in bad weather. School Bus Drivers must exercise particular caution when children are getting on or off the bus. They must maintain order on their bus and enforce school safety standards by allowing only students to board. In addition, they must know and enforce the school system’s rules regarding student conduct. As the number of students with physical or behavioral disabilities increases, School Bus Drivers must learn how to accommodate their special needs.

School Bus Drivers may use tire pressure gauges, wheelchair lifts and accessories, radio frequency identification devices, two-way radios, snow chains, emergency first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, and map-creation software.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Follow safety rules as students board and exit buses or cross streets near bus stops.Selective Attention
Comply with traffic regulations to operate vehicles in a safe and courteous manner.Reaction Time
Check the condition of a vehicle's tires, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, oil, fuel, water, and safety equipment to ensure that everything is in working order.Operation Monitoring
Maintain order among pupils during trips to ensure safety.Social Perceptiveness
Pick up and drop off students at regularly scheduled neighborhood locations, following strict time schedules.Time Management
Report any bus malfunctions or needed repairs.Problem Sensitivity
Drive gasoline, diesel, or electrically powered multi-passenger vehicles to transport students between neighborhoods, schools, and school activities.Response Orientation
Prepare and submit reports that may include the number of passengers or trips, hours worked, mileage, fuel consumption, or fares received.Reading Comprehension
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

All buses are heated and some are air-conditioned; however, Drivers experience heat, cold, rain, and wind because they frequently must open the door and escort students across roads and highways.

Driving a bus through heavy traffic while dealing with children is more stressful and fatiguing than physically strenuous. But, many Drivers enjoy the opportunity to work without direct supervision, with full responsibility for their bus and passengers.

School Bus Drivers work only when schools are in session. Many work 20 hours a week or less, driving one or two routes in the morning and afternoon. Drivers taking field or athletic trips, or who also have midday kindergarten routes, may work more hours a week.

School Bus Drivers may belong to one of several national unions which have local unions located throughout the State.

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 2022 for Bus Drivers, School or Special Client in California is N/A annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Annual Wages for 2022Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2022 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


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?

Individuals who have good driving records and who are willing to work a part-time or irregular schedule will have the best job prospects.

The number of School Bus Drivers is expected to increase as a result of growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments. However, the increase will not be high due to a slowdown in the growth rate of school enrollment. School bus-driving jobs should be easier to acquire than other bus-driving jobs particularly in suburban areas as most are part-time positions subject to high turnover and require less training.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Bus Drivers, School or Special Client is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Bus Drivers, School or Special Client are expected to increase by 7.4 percent, or 1,500 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Bus Drivers, School or Special Client
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Total Job
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Employers usually require a high school diploma. The legal minimum age is 18 to drive a bus within the State and 21 to drive a bus across State lines. Training is provided by school districts, private schools, or private school bus contractors but directed by the Department of Education. School Bus Drivers receive at least 20 hours of classroom training on State and local laws, regulations, and policies and 20 hours of behind-the-wheel training. They also learn safe driving practices, driver-pupil relations, first aid, emergency evacuation procedures, and the special needs of students who are disabled or emotionally troubled. In addition, they must be aware of the school system’s rules for discipline and conduct for Bus Drivers and the students they transport. Many people who become School Bus Drivers have never driven any vehicle larger than an automobile.

School Bus Drivers must have a clean police record. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires fingerprint clearance by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before issuing the appropriate license. In addition, most employers check official motor vehicle records. All employers require drug testing prior to hiring and continue to test employees randomly after hire.

Early Career Planning

Those interested in becoming School Bus Drivers should take driver education, English, and auto mechanics.

Continuing Education

Most Bus Drivers get brief supplemental training periodically to stay informed of safety issues and regulatory changes. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) requires School Bus Drivers demonstrate that they have taken ten hours of training each year when they renew their school bus certificate.

Licensing and Certification

All School Bus Drivers must possess a school bus driver certificate, Class "A" or "B" Commercial Driver License with a "P" passenger and an "S" school bus endorsement, a medical certificate, and a first aid certificate.

To qualify for a commercial bus driver license, applicants must pass a knowledge test on rules and regulations given by the DMV. Then, Drivers must demonstrate that they can operate a bus safely by passing the driving and written test to receive the school bus endorsement through the CHP. The CHP will submit live scan fingerprints to the DOJ. A School Bus Office Coordinator is located in each local CHP area office to help job seekers with the school bus driver certification process.

Testing for the mandatory first aid certificate is conducted by the CHP, along with the exam for school bus driver certificate with "S" endorsement for school bus. The certificate and endorsement are valid for five years.

Applicants must submit a medical certificate from a medical doctor to DMV as part of the requirements for licensing and renewal. After the DMV processes the medical certificate, fingerprint check results from DOJ, and the information from CHP, it issues the appropriate license.

To renew a license with the DMV, Drivers must pass a medical exam every two years unless over 65 when they must pass an annual medical exam. The CHP renews the school bus certificate ensuring that continuing education requirements have been met. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Bus Drivers, School or Special Client are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Transit and Ground Passenger Transport61.2%
Local Government16.2%
Elementary and Secondary Schools12.7%
Individual and Family Services3.6%
Community Care Facility for the Elderly1.4%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

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).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Bus Drivers, School or Special Client.

  • Bus
  • Private Schools
  • School Bus
  • School District
  • School Transportation

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

School Bus Drivers occasionally move from part-time status to full-time status after a period of months or years on the job with an employer. However, most School Bus Drivers who desire higher wages or full-time work switch to transit or inter-city bus driving, taxi driving, or truck driving. Some School Bus Drivers become school bus driver instructors or supervisors.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Bus Drivers, School or Special Client with links to more information.

Bus Drivers, Transit and IntercityGuide
Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and HostlersProfile
Taxi Drivers and ChauffeursProfile
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck DriversGuide
Light Truck or Delivery Services DriversGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification53-3022
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Bus Drivers, School or Special Client53-3022.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCS
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Truck and Bus Driver/Commercial Vehicle Operator and Instruc490205
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Truck and Bus Driving094750