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CDL School Bus Endorsement Course

Train online to satisfy the theory instruction requirement for your commercial driver’s license (CDL) School Bus endorsement. This Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-approved School Bus Endorsement course provides a thorough, effective and efficient way to prepare for your School Bus endorsement exam.

The curriculum was designed by experienced CDL instructors. Individuals who are looking to apply for their commercial learner’s permit (CLP) with a School Bus endorsement or add this endorsement to an existing CDL should take this course.

SafeMotorist is a national provider of approved driver education and safety training. We offer state-approved teen and adult driver ed, boater safety training, commercial driving courses, court-mandated traffic school and more.

About the School Bus Endorsement Course

Our ELDT School Bus Endorsement course is a specialized program that equips drivers with the necessary education to earn a CDL School Bus endorsement. It is designed to satisfy federal requirements for theory instruction.

Upon completion of this training, students must take behind-the-wheel (BTW) range and public road training to demonstrate basic vehicle control skills alongside a BTW instructor. You may need to satisfy additional state-specific requirements to earn your endorsement.

Approved by the FMCSA, our course caters to the distinct requirements of student transportation. Your training tackles the precise challenges and responsibilities inherent in school bus operation, ensuring you’re prepared to transport students safely.

The course’s convenient online format allows participants to study at their own pace from anywhere with internet access. Explore crucial topics such as safety protocols, laws and regulations, special needs awareness, defensive driving techniques, emergency procedures and more.

With interactive modules, practical exercises and expert guidance, our online course ensures a seamless and engaging learning experience for aspiring school bus drivers.

Our course offers:

  • Online learning
  • Free, automatic FMCSA reporting
  • Interactive modules
  • And more

Once you complete this theory training and your BTW range and public road training, you are eligible to take the knowledge test and driving skills test for your S endorsement. In order to transport students in a school bus, you will also need to have a Passenger (P) endorsement.

Who Needs a School Bus Endorsement?

If you’re aiming to get your CLP with a School Bus endorsement or add a School Bus endorsement to your existing CDL, this course is for you.

Note that if you earned your CLP before February 7, 2022, you’re exempt from the new ELDT regulations as long as you get your CDL or endorsement before your CLP (or renewed CLP) expires.

Course Outline

Designed by experienced CDL instructors, our three-hour ELDT School Bus Endorsement course thoroughly prepares you for your school bus endorsement test with FMCSA-approved theory instruction.

Each course module ends with five-question quiz. You must score at least 80% on each quiz to successfully pass the course. If you do not pass a quiz, you have unlimited attempts to retake it. There is no final exam.

Module 1: Danger Zones and Use of Mirrors

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Danger Zones
  • Correct Mirror Adjustment

Module 2: Loading and Unloading

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Dangers of Loading and Unloading
  • Safety Equipment and How to Use It
  • Loading and Unloading Procedures
  • Backing a School Bus

Module 3: Vehicle Orientation

Topics covered in this module include:

  • School Bus Classification and Characteristics
  • Adjustments
  • Vehicle Lights

Module 4: Post-Crash Procedures

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Crash Prevention
  • Post-Crash Procedures

Module 5: Emergency Exit and Evacuation

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Deciding When to Evacuate
  • Types of Evacuation
  • Evacuation Procedures

Module 6: Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Types of Railroad Highway-Grade Crossings
  • Crossing Procedures
  • Special Circumstances

Module 7: Student Management

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Communication
  • Identifying Areas of Improvement
  • Techniques and Strategies

Module 8: Special Safety Considerations

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Inclement Weather
  • Tail Swing and Sideswipe
  • Backing a School Bus
  • Antilock Braking Systems

Module 9: Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Pre-Trip Inspection
  • En Route Inspection
  • Post-Trip Inspection

Module 10: School Bus Security

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Identifying Security Threats and Incidents
  • Best Practices
  • Responding to Security Threats

Module 11: Route and Stop Reviews

Topics covered in this module include:

  • Route Planning
  • You and Your Route

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a School Bus endorsement?

A school bus endorsement, also known as a CDL S endorsement, is a designation on a commercial driver’s license that authorizes the holder to operate a school bus while carrying student passengers. This endorsement — and a Passenger (P) endorsement — are required for drivers who transport students to and from school or school-related activities.

To obtain a school bus endorsement, most drivers need to start with entry-level driver training that includes theory instruction and behind-the-wheel training. After satisfying these requirements, you will be eligible to take the written knowledge test and skills test specific to school bus operation.

Additional requirements may apply, such as passing a background check, passing a medical examination and satisfying any state-specific requirements. For information on state requirements, contact your local DMV.

Having a school bus endorsement demonstrates that a driver has received specialized training and is qualified to transport students.

What topics are covered in the School Bus endorsement course?

The course covers a range of topics essential for school bus drivers, including safety protocols, laws and regulations, special needs awareness, defensive driving techniques, vehicle inspection and maintenance, communication skills and emergency procedures.

How long is the course?

Our course is three hours long. The online format allows you to complete the course at your own pace — you can stop and start as needed.

Will I earn my School Bus endorsement after completing the course?

No, this FMCSA-approved course satisfies the theory instruction portion of your S endorsement training. Upon completion, you can download a course certificate.

Your completion will be automatically reported to the FMCSA Training Provider Registry (TPR) by midnight of the second business day after course completion. To verify your completion was reported, you can visit the FMCSA website.

After your theory instruction, you must register for behind-the-wheel training with a qualified instructor. Once you satisfy the theory and behind-the-wheel training requirements, you can visit the DMV to take the knowledge and skills test to officially earn your endorsement.

Note that your state may have requirements that exceed federal requirements. Before you start your theory training, contact your local DMV to learn about all state-specific requirements for earning a CDL endorsement.

What are the course learning objectives?

After this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the danger zones around a school bus
  • Explain what you should be able to see out of each mirror in a school bus when properly adjusted
  • Describe proper loading and unloading procedures
  • Describe proper emergency exit and evacuation procedures
  • Describe the recommended procedures for operating at railroad-highway crossings
  • List tips for handling student behavior issues on school buses

Do you need a CDL to drive a school bus?

In the United States, driving a school bus with student passengers requires a commercial driver's license with a School Bus endorsement. This endorsement, often denoted as an S endorsement, demonstrates that the driver has undergone specialized training and is qualified to operate a school bus.

Additionally, school bus drivers who transport pre-primary, primary or secondary school students will need a Passenger (P) endorsement. Other requirements such as background checks and medical examinations may also be necessary depending on the state or jurisdiction.

How much do school bus drivers make?

The salary of school bus drivers can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, experience, the employer (such as a school district or private transportation company) and the number of hours worked.

On average, school bus drivers in the United States earn $45,210 per year. The average hourly wage is $21.74. However, in some areas or with certain employers, drivers may earn more, especially if they have extensive experience or work full-time with additional benefits. For example, the top-paying state for bus drivers is North Dakota with an average wage of $63,470 per year.

It's important to note that some school bus driver positions may offer part-time hours or seasonal work, which can impact overall earnings. Additionally, benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans and paid time off may also vary depending on the employer.

Do I need a School Bus endorsement and a Passenger endorsement to transport students?

Yes, the FMCSA requires you to have both endorsements to transport students to and from school or school-related activities.

The Passenger (P) endorsement allows you to operate a vehicle carrying a certain number of passengers over a state-specified limit. The School Bus endorsement helps ensure the safe transportation of students and teaches effective management and communication strategies.

If you need to operate a school bus that is not carrying student passengers, only a P endorsement is required. This applies to drivers who:

  • Deliver school buses from the manufacturer
  • Operate or perform maintenance on empty school buses
  • Transport students or adults to and from events not sponsored by the school

How often do I need to renew my School Bus endorsement?

The renewal period for a CDL S endorsement can vary by state. It is important to check with the relevant licensing agency or department of motor vehicles for specific renewal requirements and deadlines.

In Missouri, for example, drivers are required to renew their School Bus endorsement with their CDL every six years.

I already have a CDL. Can I add a School Bus endorsement to it?

Yes, individuals with an existing CDL can add a School Bus endorsement by completing this required training and passing the necessary exams specific to school bus operation. If you do not already have a Passenger endorsement, you will need to earn one to transport students on a school bus.

School Bus Endorsement Course

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