london bus

How to become a bus driver

Do you want to be on the great open road day in, day out, and not stuck in an office environment? Are you passionate about driving? Do you want to be part of a local community, assisting people getting from A to B, comfortably and safely? If so, becoming a Bus Driver sounds like the perfect job opportunity for you! But how much do you know about what is involved in this role?

Believe it or not, there is much more to being a Bus Driver than just driving; here you can find out what’s involved and what skills and qualifications you’ll need to succeed…

What does the role of a Bus Driver include?

As you may imagine, the role of a bus or coach driver is to get passengers on local, national or overseas journeys from A to B. The type of bus or coach driver and company you opt to work for is in your hands, but some of the options could include working for a school, holiday or local transport company.

As a bus driver, safety is the most important thing to consider. You’ll have around 10 – 30 passengers on your bus at any one time and you’ll be responsible for their safety on the roads. Alongside driving and transporting the public, you’ll need to be able to provide excellent customer service and deal with a range of questions and issues with ease.

No matter who they are and where they are heading, you will need to have a passion to work with people (no matter how difficult they may be!) and keep them coming back to use your bus services again and again.

So what can I expect to earn?

At entry level, you can expect to earn around £13,000 – £16,000 per year, depending on the location and industry you choose. As you develop your skills and experience, you can look for your earnings to rise to around £16,000 – £22,000 per year. Many drivers are allowed to take on a number of overtime hours, which could increase your overall yearly income by an additional £2,000 – £5,000.

Do I need any qualifications for this role?

You must be over the age of 18 and already hold an EU driving license, however, it’s worth being aware that some companies may ask for their drivers to be over the age of 21 and have at least two years experience after gaining their EU driving license. This will vary by industry and company, but it is something you can check on their website very easily.

The next steps to becoming a Bus Driver are to pass two qualifications. You’ll need to gain the Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) license and the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC Driver). The PCV takes about four to six weeks to complete. Your driving skills and knowledge both on a practical and theory level will be assessed.

Within this, you’ll also need to have a medical check to ensure you are fit to drive a large vehicle.

You’ll also take your CPC Driver certificate, which is split into four sections. You’ll need to pass all of the four parts before you can become a qualified Bus Driver. It is important to note that you’ll need to renew your Bus Driving license every five years. This will include a 35-hour training scheme.

If working abroad, there may be other qualifications and training you need to take part in. Though this will depend on the country and driving laws.

Once you’ve passed all these qualifications have secured a job at a bus company, you’ll then go through further induction training to ensure you’re competent at operating the ticket machines, communicating throughout the day via the radios.

You’ll receive training to ensure that you know your routes inside out, have a sound knowledge on health and safety and finally, will know how to deal and care for an array of customers to provide excellent customer service.

As a Bus Driver, what are the key skills I need to have?

  • Excellent knowledge of the roads and routes you’re driving on
  • Confident driving skills
  • Excellent understanding of the highway code and traffic regulations
  • Patient, responsible, assertive and understanding manner
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Ability communicate clearly and effectively
  • Good numeracy skills
  • Understanding of health and safety issues

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

As a Bus Driver, you’ll be working up to 48 hours per week on a shift basis. This means your hours will vary from day to day. Plus, you may need to work evenings and weekends regularly. If you choose to work as a Coach Driver, you could be working up to 56 hours per week.

The day-to-day tasks involved will vary depending on your industry, but generally speaking, your daily tasks as a bus driver would incorporate:

  • Keeping the bus clean and safe through regular inspections and vehicle checks
  • Driving the bus along its designated routes
  • Helping passengers onto and off the bus who need additional support, such as elderly, disabled, or pregnant passengers, and helping parents with young children
  • Knowing the fare for a particular journey, taking the right money and giving back accurate change, along with processing the ticket
  • Knowing bus timetables and routes for passengers who ask
  • Checking tickets
  • Being able to recognise the different passes and checking these correctly
  • Stopping at scheduled stops depending on the inspectors instructions from the depot
  • Reporting any incidents on the roads to inspectors at the depot
  • If on a coach, you may need to ensure passengers are back on board for the return journey and assist in loading and unloading luggage

Is there any progression within this career?

To progress further as a Bus Driver your employer may recommend that you take some industry qualifications. For example, Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Passenger Carrying Vehicle Driving, or a qualification in Customer Service. With enough experience under your belt, you could progress to Service Controller, Inspector, Depot Manager or Driver Training Instructor.

There are also opportunities to look at setting up your own Bus Driving business later down the line.

What to look forward to?

Not only will you be out of the office and driving all day for a living, you’ll also be able to meet many diverse and interesting people on your daily route. You’ll truly become part of the community, with so many people relying on you to get them from A to B, which is what makes this such a rewarding career.

What to prepare for?

When the weather gets particularly bad in winter, or you’re faced with traffic congestion or angry customers, it can seem daunting. But you need to remember to keep calm in all situations and follow instructions from your depot manager if things get tough. You’re offering a much-needed service to your community. They’ll thank you for it at the end of the day!

What qualities would be beneficial to have?

You need to be patient with an assertive nature to succeed. Not only will you have to negotiate the congested roads and car drivers that won’t let you out easily, you’ll also need to be able to deal with various customer requests, complaints, noise and activities.

Being positive and out-going will be beneficial, as it will allow for you to connect with the community much more easily. In the long term this will make your daily job much more enjoyable.

What to find out more? Browsing our Bus Driver Jobs pages will help improve your understanding further!

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