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Want to become a school bus driver?

Then you need special certifications for that, namely:

  • A commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • A P endorsement
  • An S endorsement 

We’ve already covered the P endorsement here

Now, let’s focus on the S endorsement. 

What is the S – School Bus endorsement?

When do you need it?

What are the requirements to get it?

Let’s find out in this complete guide. 

What is a School Bus Endorsement?

When you transport minors, there are unique aspects and safety requirements that you need to know about. 

This is why you need special training and skills. 

The School Bus endorsement is a certification to prove that you acquired those training and skills (and are thus allowed to transport minors in a school bus)

That’s all there is to it. 

When is a School Bus Endorsement Required?

I think the endorsement name is pretty self-explanatory. 

You need a School Bus endorsement to drive a school bus. 

However, if you want the specifics…

You need a School Bus endorsement on your CDL if you want to transport school students:

  • From home to school
  • From school to home
  • To and from any school-sponsored event

How to Get a School Bus Endorsement 

To get a School Bus endorsement, you’ll need a CDL and P endorsement. 

The great news is that you can get all three simultaneously.

This way, when you get your CDL — it’ll already come with the P and S endorsement. 

Let’s see how to do that…

Requirements to Get a School Bus Endorsement 

The School Bus endorsement requirements are the same as getting a CDL and P endorsement. 

This includes: 

  • Must be at least 18 years old (to drive intrastate) or 21 years old (to drive interstate).
  • Must hold a valid driver’s license (driving experience requirements will differ per state).
  • Must be a US citizen or legal alien.
  • Must submit a background check (depending on the state).
  • Must have a clean driving record. 
  • Must pass the School Bus knowledge and skills test. 
  • Must complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT).
  • Must pay the appropriate fees. 

How to Apply for a School Bus Endorsement 

When applying for a CDL permit, you can choose to add the P and S endorsement. 

You can find articles on the CDL requirements for each state here

If so, you will need to pass 3 knowledge tests — the general CDL knowledge test, a P endorsement knowledge test, and an S endorsement knowledge test. 

You’ll also have to pay extra for an endorsement — this usually ranges from $5 to $50. 

Once you pass, you’ll receive your CDL permit and can start practicing driving a school bus. 

Just remember that you’re not allowed to transport kids just yet!

Now, before you can take the skills test, you first need to complete an Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) from an FMCSA-approved trucking school

When that’s done, you can schedule a school bus skills test. 

And when you pass that, you should provide all the documents to get your CDL, P endorsement, and S endorsement. 

The documents you bring will differ per state (some states look for background checks and fingerprints for a P and S endorsement) — so make sure you research before heading to a DMV office. 

And that’s it!

You have a commercial driver’s license with a P and S endorsement!

What if you already have a commercial driver’s license?

Then you need to:

  • Apply for both a P and S endorsement.
  • Take the required knowledge tests for both. 
  • Complete an ELDT program.
  • Pass the required skills test.  

FAQs About the School Bus Endorsement Test

How Do I Prepare for the School Bus Endorsement Test?

For some states, like California, you have to attend a school bus course before taking the S endorsement knowledge test. 

Most states, however, don’t require this. 

But you’ll be better off studying about school buses so that the knowledge test will be easier for you. 

You can read your state’s school bus driver’s manual. 

Or, you can take FREE practice tests online. 

How Many Questions Are on the School Bus Endorsement Test?

There are usually 20 questions on the S endorsement knowledge test. 

This will quiz you on topics such as:

  • Proper loading and unloading procedures for students
  • How to handle children
  • How to evacuate passengers in case of an emergency
  • Federal and state laws on safely crossing highway rails
  • And much more!

What Score Do You Need to Pass the School Bus Endorsement Test?

To pass the S endorsement knowledge test, you’ll need a minimum score of 80%. You have to answer at least 16 out of 20 questions correctly. 

How Much Does the School Bus Endorsement Test Cost?

The cost of the S endorsement test will vary per state. 

For example, in New York, the skills test alone is $50. 

In California, this will cost you $89 – but this is already for the total S endorsement fees. 

Make sure you check how much the test (and total endorsement fee) costs in your state. 

FAQs About the School Bus Endorsement

Will I Need to Go Through a Background Check?

Not necessarily. 

In some states, it’s required to go through a background check before you can get the School Bus endorsement. 

However, in other states, the DMV leaves that to the school you work with. The school may or may not ask you to take a background check before they hire you. 

Now, with a background check, minor offenses may be overlooked. 

But felonies such as a DUI, or anything that may raise some flags considering the nature of the job, may lead to disqualification.

What Happens if I’m Caught Without a School Bus Endorsement?

Driving a school bus without an S Endorsement is a serious offense.

This is not only breaking the law — it’s putting children at risk. 

Drivers caught in the act will face high fines, license suspensions, and even criminal charges of endangerment – especially if they caused any harm on the road. 

That said, it’s near impossible to find a school that’ll employ an individual without a proper S endorsement.

How Long Does a School Bus Endorsement Last?

The duration of the S endorsement will vary based on the state you apply in.

For the most part, your S endorsement will stay active for 2 to 5 years.

After that, you’ll have to renew it. 

And, depending on the state, you may need to sit for a refresher class to get your S endorsement renewed. 


So what is an S – School Bus endorsement?

It’s a special certification to prove that you have the proper training and skills to operate a school bus. 

If you’re planning on driving a school bus, you’ll be happy to know that you can get it at the same time as the other requirements —- a commercial driver’s license and Passenger endorsement. 

Now that you know how to get the S endorsement…

You should go ahead and work on it!

Best of luck!

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