Jobs Outlook: Bus Drivers

Persons seeking jobs as bus drivers should encounter good opportunities. Individuals who have good driving records and who are willing to work a part-time or irregular schedule should have the best job prospects. Schoolbus driving jobs, particularly in rapidly growing suburban areas, should be easiest to acquire because most are part-time positions with high turnover and minimal training requirements. Those seeking higher paying intercity and public transit bus driver positions may encounter competition. Employment prospects for motorcoach drivers will fluctuate with the cyclical nature of the economy, as demand for motorcoach services is very dependent on tourism.

Employment of bus drivers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012, primarily to meet the transportation needs of the growing general population and the school-age population. Many additional job openings are expected to occur each year because of the need to replace workers who take jobs in other occupations or who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons.

The number of school bus drivers is expected to increase as a result of growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments. In addition, more schoolbus drivers will be needed as more of the Nation’s population is concentrated in suburban areas, where students generally ride schoolbuses, and less in central cities, where transportation is not provided for most pupils.

Employment growth of local-transit bus drivers will be spurred by increases in the number of passengers and in funding levels. Funding levels for public transit may fluctuate as the public’s interest in transportation changes. There may be competition for positions with more regular hours and steady driving routes.

Competition from other modes of transportation—airplane, train, or automobile—will temper job growth among intercity bus drivers. Most growth in intercity bus transportation will occur in group charters to locations not served by other modes of transportation. Like automobiles, buses have a far greater number of possible destinations than airplanes or trains. Due to greater cost savings and convenience over automobiles, buses usually are the most economical option for tour groups traveling to out-of-the-way destinations.

Full-time bus drivers are rarely laid off during recessions. However, employers might reduce hours of part-time local-transit and intercity bus drivers if the number of passengers decreases, because fewer extra buses would be needed. Seasonal layoffs are common. Many intercity bus drivers with little seniority, for example, are furloughed during the winter when regular schedule and charter business declines; schoolbus drivers seldom work during the summer or school holidays.