Bus Driver: Job Profile and Role

You may know that The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper has a fascination with trains. Maybe you have a similar fascination for buses which is why you have always wanted to become a bus driver. You are heading towards your dream career, if you are at least 18 years old and consider yourself as a people person.

What other requirements, qualifications and skills you need to become a bus driver in the UK is what we will look at in this blog. Here, we will also tell you what annual salaries you can expect and where you can find employment. To help you with your decision, we provide you with first insights into a day in the life of a bus driver and give you valuable tips for thriving in this job.

Short Summary

  • As a bus driver, one of your most important jobs is to transport passengers of all ages to their chosen destinations. This can include driving children from home to school and back.
  • As a bus driver, you are required to know and adhere to all safety and legal requirements and regulations, thus ensuring that all passengers on board and other traffic participants are not exposed to any dangers.
  • As a bus driver, you need to be a fast thinker and alert at all times. This enables you to react to unforeseen traffic and passenger disruptions and contributes to your bus driver’s professionalism.

Job description

Your top priority in your job as a bus driver is to transport passengers of all ages safely from one point to another. You are also responsible for giving information on timetables and fares and to assist passengers who have trouble getting on and off your bus. When working in this job, you need to be familiar with ticketing and fare systems since you are also in charge of selling bus tickets. Also, you need to be constantly alert to avoid accidents that endanger you, your passengers, and other traffic participants.


  • Safe Driving
  • Customer Service
  • Route Knowledge
  • Helping Passengers
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Adherence to Schedules
  • Ticketing/Fare Collection
  • Passenger Transportation
  • Timetable/Route Information

Different types of Bus Drivers

  • Private Transportation Provider
  • Shuttle Bus Driver
  • School Bus Driver
  • Transit Bus Driver
  • Minibus Driver


If the job of a bus driver is your chosen career, you can expect an annual salary starting at £25,000 which can increase to £32,000. Besides your work experience, your job position will affect your wages, for example, when working as a school bus driver. Here, your annual wages can start at £18,000 and increase to £52,000. You need to keep in mind that further factors, such as your employer and the location where you are working, will influence your annual salary.

Working hours

Your typical working hours can amount to 45 to 47 hours per week which are split into shifts. These shifts can cover early morning, daytime, evening, and night shifts – depending on your employer and the general operating hours. Generally, you will work between 8 and 12 hours a day which you will mostly spend on the roads. You need to be sure that you are also happy with weekend and holiday work and (long-distance) travelling since these shifts will affect your personal life just as much as evening and night shifts.


When you apply for your first job, you can start looking at public transport companies, such as Stagecoach, National Express, and FirstGroup. Equally, you may want to look for employment as a school bus driver or a shuttle bus driver. Here, we recommend that you look for job posts from the HCT Group, local bus operators, easyBus, or Green Line Coaches, to name but a few of the viable options available to you.

How to apply as a Bus Driver

Applying for a bus driver job necessitates putting together a job application file. Typically, this consists of your CV (Curriculum Vitae), your cover letter, a motivation letter, and your qualifications and references. Each one of these parts comes with its own requirements which we will now look at.

Curriculum Vitae

You compile your CV reverse chronologically, meaning that you start with your current/latest job and work your way down to your educational background. Your resume also includes your personal information, your qualifications, and the skills required in the job post. Typically, your CV should not be longer than one A4 page.

Cover Letter

Your bus driver cover letter details some of the things you have listed in your CV, such as your previous career, experience, and educational approach. Here, you also detail what makes you the perfect candidate for the bus driver job you are applying for. Keep in mind that you need to be as concise as possible and should always stick to the truth. Avoid embellishing your qualifications and skills and do not list anything you cannot do – HR will see through you, in your job interview, at the latest.

Motivation Letter

If required, you can include a motivation letter in which you explain why you are passionate about the job of a bus driver. This part of your application can be more “emotional” than your cover letter. However, like the cover letter, it should not be longer than 1,5 A4 pages.

One more tip for your application: try to convey the most important information in the first few sentences and ensure that your application is a verbal eye-catcher. HR personnel want to see within a few seconds whether you are a worthy candidate for the job.


To start your bus driver career, you need a Category B licence (car driving licence). Also, you need to be 18 years or older. Typically, you also need to pass a medical examination if you want to earn your Category D licence. Your next step can be to look into a 12-month apprenticeship for which you usually need some GCSEs, including in English and maths. Moreover, you should familiarise yourself with ticketing and fare systems like Swift Card, Ticketer, and Gemalto. You will also benefit from knowledge of scheduling and dispatching software, such as Optibus and CT Plus.

The job as a bus driver could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


Your skill set is an important part of both your future job and your job application since you need to list the skills your future employer is looking for. Therefore, always thoroughly check the skills requirements in the job postings and make sure you have the competencies expected of you. Let’s take a closer look at three skills you should have when you want to become a bus driver in the UK.

Is the bus driver job a good fit for you? Typically, a bus driver should have or develop the following skills:

Ability to Stay Calm

Regardless of the passengers you are transporting, keep the following in mind: there is hardly a bus trip that is either quiet or peaceful. The opposite is true. Driving passengers tends to involve a certain level of noise. It can equally include customers who are hellbent on making your working day a serious challenge. To sail through days like this, you need to be able to stay calm. Do not let anyone ruffle your professional feathers since this leads to several consequences. It can a) cost you your job, and b) endanger the passengers on board and every other traffic participant.

Being Alert

Being alert at all times is another important skill you should have. You are, after all, driving a large vehicle that carries passengers. Also, you have to navigate buses and passengers through sometimes heavy traffic and/or heavy weather. You need to have your eyes everywhere at once. This is the only way you ensure that you can react to unforeseen disruptions within the blink of an eye and conduct your bus journeys safely.


Let’s return to customers who ruffle your professional feathers – professional being the operative word. If you want to stay and succeed in your bus driver job, you need to stay professional at all times. Retain a positive attitude, counter criticism and complaints with a smile (but also, take said criticism on board and reflect on it). This way, you will not only gain the respect of other passengers, your colleagues, and your superiors. You also ensure that the day’s stress affects you less.

Career Path

With work experience and beneficial qualifications, your bus driver’s career can take different directions. You can look into becoming a service controller or inspector. If you want to work behind the scenes, so to speak, you can also look into becoming a driver training instructor or a depot manager. Being a work-experienced bus driver can also set you up for your own business. Note that you need the Transport Manager CPC in Passenger Transport for this specific career option. 

Educational Background

Most bus drivers in the UK approach their careers by either applying directly or completing an apprenticeship. Maybe the latter is also an approach that is interesting for you. If so, you can look into doing a passenger transport driver intermediate apprenticeship which you typically complete within a year. Here, you gain theoretical knowledge as well as on-the-job practical training/experience. You can also look into other apprenticeships, for example, the Bus Driver Level 2 Apprenticeship or the Bus Driver Apprenticeship Passenger Transport.

Training and Entry Level

To enter this apprenticeship or apply directly to a bus driver vacancy, you need to pass your Category D2 licence. You can request the application form from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency) who then provides you with a provisional bus licence. Part of your bus driver training then includes four theoretical tests: the CPC part 1 theory test, the CPC part 2 case studies test, the CPC parts 3a and 3b practical tests, and the CPC part 4 practical demonstration. If you pass all these tests, you have earned your Driver CPC Card. With this, you can apply for your first bus driver job which at the same time functions as your entry-level position.

Continuous Learning

Your bus driver training is a vital part of your continuous learning curve. Besides, you should always look into further ways to improve your professional qualifications and skills. We have already mentioned one such qualification, the Transport Manager CPC in Passenger Transport. This may be an interesting option if you want to start your own business since it covers the management side of a business as well as the legal requirements and regulations related to running a bus-driving company. 

If you want to progress to the job of a standard operator, you can look into the SEG Awards Level 3 Certificate of Professional Competence for Transport Managers Passenger Transport. This can also be your starting point when training to become a bus driver. Note that the required entry age is 18 years.

A Day in the Life of a Bus Driver

Depending on your bus driver shift, you may have a ridiculously early start before the sun has even risen. After you have gotten ready for the day ahead, you arrive at your employer’s. Here, the following daily tasks can wait for you.

Maintenance Checks

You should never set out on your first bus journey without checking that your vehicle is in complete working order. Your bus needs to have plenty of fuel for your first trips, a working engine, brakes, and lights, and ideally, also a functioning air con. Also, make sure that you have no flat tyres. These are only a few of the things that you need to check before starting the bus. 

Picking up Passengers

If your vehicle is in top shape, you can leave for your first stop where you pick up your first passengers. Make sure that you know your timetable inside out and have plenty of time to get from the bus depot to the first bus stop. This way, you ensure happy customers and that you stay on top of your day’s timetable.

Selling Tickets/Collecting Fares

Selling tickets to your passengers – except pupils and flight passengers – is another one of your daily tasks. Make sure you have a working card reader and sufficient change for tickets that are paid for in cash. Also, ensure that all passengers actually have a ticket which can be a less pleasant part of your job if you encounter a fare-dodger.

Tips for Thriving as a Bus Driver

To conclude the list of tips you already have to become a bus driver in the UK, we now give you three more tips for thriving in this job:

  • Route familiarisation
  • Skills improvement
  • Refresher courses

Route Familiarisation

Whether you drive a London double-decker, a National Express overland bus, or a school bus: being familiar with your routes ensures that you thrive in your job. Naturally, knowing your daily routes inside out is not something that will happen overnight but with experience. After a while, you are the expert on everything connected to your routes, including shortcuts and the amount of time it takes you and your bus to get from one stop to the next – always assuming that the daily traffic does not have other ideas.

Skills Improvement

Always invest time in your skills when you want to thrive in your bus driver job. We recommend that you look into training and workshops where you learn the latest developments in customer service and traffic safety. You will also benefit from attending driving technique courses where you learn defensive driving, manoeuvring, and reversing, for example.

Refresher Courses

You may encounter emergencies in your job, such as fainting passengers. In this case, you need to assist with first aid. Therefore, doing regular refresher courses is a grand idea. You should also look into refreshing your knowledge on health and safety, legal requirements, and road and traffic regulations since new developments will be implemented regularly. 

Other jobs that are similar and might also interest you:

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a bus driver earn?

Your bus driver’s annual salary in the UK starts at £25,000. With work experience, it can increase to £32,000. Your bus driver position will also affect what you earn each year. Working as a school bus driver can mean that you will earn between £18,000 and £52,000. You also need to keep in mind further factors that will influence your annual salary. Among those are your employer and the location where you are working.

What qualifications do I need to become a bus driver?

You need a Category B licence (car driving licence) and be 18 years or older to become a bus driver in the UK. Earning your Category D licence requires passing a medical examination. Also, you need some GCSEs, including in maths and English, if you then want to start a 12-month apprenticeship, for example, a passenger transport driver intermediate apprenticeship. Besides, you will benefit from an in-depth knowledge of ticketing and fare systems like Swift Card, Ticketer, and Gemalto as well as scheduling and dispatching software like CT Plus and Optibus.

What is the job of a bus driver?

You perform a variety of tasks in your job as a bus driver. Needless to say transporting passengers is one of the most important ones. You are also in charge of selling bus tickets which requires you to be familiar with ticketing and fare systems. You also need to stay updated on timetables and traffic, ensuring that you are a) always on time and b) can adjust your route accordingly, for example, when a street is blocked off due to maintenance work. Being a bus driver also extends to giving information to the passengers and assisting passengers who have trouble getting on and off a bus.