So You Want To Become A Commercial Driver?

commercial driverCommercial drivers such as truck and bus drivers have very important jobs in the American economy. Truck drivers are responsible for transporting goods across the country and bus drivers are not only are they responsible for the safety and well-being of the passengers on their buses, but they provide essential transportation to students and the general public.

Without these drivers, public and commercial transportation would be both difficult and much more expensive.

With this important job, comes specialized skills, requirements, and tests. If you are interested in a responsible career driving commercial vehicles, look to these following steps for optimal placement.

Do You Qualify?

Check your state requirements for initial qualifications in the process of receiving a commercial driver’s license. This process is simple and can be conducted on various websites like the US Department of Transportation. Calling for information may be just as time-effective as searching for information online.

Each state has certain requirements for getting both the (S) and (P) endorsements, as well as the CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). You must be 18 years of age and have a certain level of driving experience (this varies by state). Physical examinations will be conducted to ensure good hearing and vision (20/40 minimum), as well as no physical disabilities in the hands and feet. If you have high blood pressure or heart problems that may increase risk of a heart attack or heart failure, you may not qualify.

Take the Test

Everyone looking to drive a commercial vehicle needs to have a CDL, where each state conducts a test of knowledge in CDL manual information. In order to obtain a permit within your state to operate a school bus, you need to pass the CDL, (S) endorsement, and (P) endorsement knowledge tests. Some commercial bus driving does not require all three, so you may want to consult your potential employer about the needed credentials to operate the company’s vehicles.

Your best path would be to complete all three exams to open more doors in the future for your driving career. All of these written exams cover the driving laws in your particular state and usually last about an hour.

Find an Instructor and Pass the Final

After completing the permit entrance exams, you will need to practice operating a school bus with an instructor or someone with a commercial bus driver’s license that is at least 21 years of age. After practicing in real-world applications and accumulating required driving hours, take the CDL skills test before your permit expiration – this period is up to 6 months after receiving your bus driving permit. This skill test assesses a person’s ability to complete vehicle inspection criteria, driving, and maneuvering a bus in real life.

Find the Job

After you have passed the CDL skill examination, you must pay your fees (unique to each state) and submit your CDL application to the state, which will then allow you to put your new skills to the job. The state will add your CDL to your Class D driver’s license and you’ll be on your way.

Continuing Education

Other any a few outliers like the state of California, as long as you continue to renew your certificates and pass driver license renewal tests every four years, you could be employed as a bus driver until retirement. Some states, like California, do require bus drivers to attend continuing education classes on an annual or bi-annual basis. Check the requirements of your state for the best practices and enjoy your new career.

This article was written by David Holly, who comes from a long line of commercial drivers. Using his experience, he is a professional writer for To read more of David’s work, you can visit his Google+.