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Bus & Truck Driving Overview
Truck and bus driving programs teach individuals how to manage and operate these vehicles. Due to the size and weight of Buses and Trucks, and the awkward turns and various other issues with driving large machinery, licensing is required to be able to drive a truck. Schools that specialize in such education as well as local community colleges may have the courses necessary to train and prepare an individual for a highly lucrative career in driving.
Bus & Truck Driving Qualifications
Though a formal education may not be necessary to enter the industry, some employers require at least two years of related experience or a minimum of a high school education. As the industry becomes more regulated the demands for trained individuals will increase. This will particularly be true for interstate drivers who may in the future be required by the U.S. Department of Transportation to take courses in truck driving.
An education in truck driving is valuable for multiple reasons, it educates individuals on how to operate a large vehicle in a variety of situations, provides an education in maintenance, allows access to vehicles for practice and helps individuals develop skills necessary for successful transit through training by experienced instructors.
A truck driving curriculum may include:
- Basic Operation
- Safety Practices
- Advanced Operation
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Non-Vehicular Activity
Trucks and Buses, as heavy vehicles, require a lot of attention and patience. A truck driver must be able to maintain his or her vehicle, operate it with established safety standards and arrive to his or her destination in a timely manner. The cost to entry is minimal, and work hours are varied.
Truck driving is a dangerous profession, especially for interstate truck drivers, as fatigue can set in unexpectedly. Individuals pursuing a career in truck driving must have good hand eye coordination, excellent hearing, strong vision, and in good physical shape. A truck driver must also recognize when rest is needed, pulling over or finding a rest stop in order to recover.
Bus and Truck Driving Certifications & Endorsements
There are a number of certifications available for bus and truck drivers to choose from when considering driving for a living. In some cases your state's department of transportation will mandate a specific certification or license while other times employers will dictate a set of requirements. Make sure to check with your county or state to determine which of the following endorsements and certifications you will need to comply with the law when driving a variety of motorized vehicles. A quick list of driving training certifications and endorsements are listed below:
- Class A CDL
- Class B CDL
- Class C CDL
- CDL Continuing Education
- CDL Permit Course
- Fleet and Industry Training
- HazMat Endorsement
- Double/Triple Endorsement - allowing drivers to pull two and three trailers.
- Passenger Endorsement
- Liquid Bulk/Tank Cargo Endorsement
- School Bus Endorsement
- Activity Bus Endorsement
- Taxi Endorsement
- Motor Bus/Motor Coach Endorsement
Types of Truck Driving and Bus Driving Jobs
Bus Drivers - Once properly trained, licensed, and certified bus drivers can work for non-profit organizations, public companies, and private organizations. The examples of each type of employer or job depends on the needs of the company along with the geographic area you are situated. In real-world terms, you can drive a bus for a non-profit organization transporting volunteers building a home for a family in need or drive a school bus for a local elementary school or even drive a private coach on-demand for professional athletes.
Specialized Truck Driver - A specialized truck driver will pick-up and/or deliver a variety of items that do not readily fit into the standard delivery trucks or require a special touch. These types of drivers are not defined by the length of time they are in their truck and can have a reach spanning from local to national to international. Real-world examples of a specialized truck driving includes oversized loads, automobile carriers, hazardous materials, manufactured housing, and aircraft parts suppliers.
Long-Haul Truck Driver - As a long-haul truck driver, you will drive a large truck for an extended period of time over a great distance. Depending on the job and employer, you may be asked to drive across state lines (interstate) or within your state of residence (intrastate) to drop-off and pick-up deliveries. You may also be asked to stay overnight on your way to and from shipment's destination or return the same day. In either case, long-haul truck drivers will either work by themselves or in a team to stay on schedule.
Local Driver - A local driver will perform pick-up and delivery services in light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy trucks in a relatively contained locale. A local driver is customer-facing and will often engage with customers to pick-up or drop-off deliveries. As such, a good working knowledge of a county, town, or city is a plus along with exceptional customer service skills.
Owner-Operator Truck Driver - An independent or owner-operated truck driver is self-employed and is not employed for a specific company. As the name indicates, an owner-operator owns or leases their equipment and hauls on a piece-meal or contract basis. It is common for owner-operators to start their careers working for a larger company before venturing out on their own. It is important to understand the driving business and associated expenses before going solo as a truck driver.
Job Outlook and Income for Bus & Truck Drivers
Truck drivers are in high demand due to the limited amount of drivers due the dangerous nature of the work. Over the next decade demand is expected to grow for truck drivers as more goods will need transit across short and long distances. Some jobs may be lost to rail transport, and others may be cut due to better tracking technology creating more efficient routes and reducing the need for large fleets of trucks. Intrastate jobs should see a much larger increase as they are most efficient form of delivery for short distances.
A bus driver will have more standard hours, though will usually make less than a truck driver, though many of the skills necessary for operating a large vehicle are the same. Bus drivers typically operate on specific routes, and have set periods for breaks along those routes. A bus driver will be responsible for him or herself and the passengers the bus carries, and as such an emphasis of safety is placed on bus driving that exceeds that of truck driving.
The national average salary for a truck driver is approximately $41,340 per year and the average annual pay for a bus driver it is about $31,920. The job growth rate for truck drivers and bus drivers is on par with the national average at around 6% growth projected through 2024. Given the size and scope of the driving industry, a six percent growth rate will translate to around 145,000 new jobs during this same reporting period.
Additional Information for Truck and Bus Drivers
Individuals interested in bus or truck driving may also be interested in auto repair or diesel repair. The SBDA and the NTA help promote the truck and bus vocation industry from coast to coast. Members gain access to unique tools and resources only found with powerful organizations focused in these career paths.