How to become a bus driver in the UK

Chances are you have been on a bus at least once, if not many times in your life as a passenger. But what about driving the bus? If you enjoy interacting with people, flexible hours and a steady income each month, becoming a bus driver could be your perfect job…

How much do bus drivers earn in the UK?

This is very dependent on the area in the country you decide to work. Driving a bus in Central London will command a higher salary than a local bus route in Cornwall for example. According to Indeed job site the average salary is £22,000 per year / £12.43 per hour. However take these figures with a pinch of salt because as previously mentioned the area you decide to work in is a big factor and also how much driving experience you have will also be a critical factor in how much you earn as a bus driver. In most companies they will have a tiered system where you earn more money as your length of service increases.

In the bus / coach industry there is usually overtime available in the form of extra days, bank holidays and antisocial working hours. This is a great way to increase your overall salary!

Can I do my bus training for free?

Yes. But it is a little more complicated. As they say there is no such thing as a free lunch! There are two routes you can take:

A bus company will train you – Bus companies always need new drivers as the bus industry usually has a high turn over in staff. So they have to recruit as many, if not more drivers to ensure they can effectively run their services accounting for the drivers leaving the business. The big advantage of training with a bus company is more often than not, it will be FREE. However you will sign what is called a ‘Training bond’. An agreement between you and the bus company that you will stay for at least one, more likely, two years. So they can get a return on their training investment. So you have to think whether you want the commitment of signing yourself in for two years and if you want to leave then you may have to pay up to £2000.00 back to the bus company for the training costs.

Paying privately for your Bus licence & CPC – If you pay for your own training and get your licence you are free to choose any company you like! No signing contracts saying you will stay for a set period of time and most importantly for this route – you earn more money straight away. As an ‘existing bus licence holder’ you are a quick win for a bus company that can simply train you about being a bus driver in service and get you straight out on road. Rather than spending their time and money to train you to get to this point. How much does it cost to become a bus driver? Realistically no more than £2000.00. If you see yourself in the bus industry and see this amount of money as an investment into your new career, this will allow you the flexibility when it comes to choosing where you work and the wage you command.

How long does it take to become a bus driver?

Between 6-8 weeks.  A lot of the time can be spent waiting for the DVLA to put the provisional entitlement on your licence and then returning your new licence. Sometimes 3+ weeks for a variety of reasons. Use this time wisely to revise thoroughly for your PCV theory tests. Practical bus training will vary between either ‘total hours’ or whole days. With no prior experience of driving larger vehicles you would need a minimum of 7 days training, equating to at least 3 hours a day physical driving time.

*USEFUL TIP* – As soon as you want to become a bus driver and you request the application forms, START REVISING. You will then be ready to take your PCV theory tests the moment your new licence is posted back to you! Saving you time overall. 

What qualifications do you need to be a bus driver?

If you have your Category B (Car licence), are over 18 years old and are passed medically fit then that is the base requirement to begin bus training. 

To become a coach or a bus driver you will need to gain the Category D PCV licence and the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). 

The process looks like this:

How many hours do bus drivers work UK?

This is a lengthy subject that we will link to the government website for to answer in greater detail >

Short summary

  • You can not legally drive over 10 hours per day.
    Once you have driven 5 and a half hours you must take a minimum of a 30 minute break
  • You must take a minimum rest of 10 hours between 2 working days.

A typical bus company will contract you somewhere between 38 – 45 hours. Worth noting that there is almost always overtime to be had to boost your salary. But always make sure you do not exceed your driving hours to do it!

What’s the difference between a coach and a bus driver?

The licence is the same. Category D. The main differences between a bus driver and a coach driver are described in the table below:

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