How To Become a Driver

How to Become a Bus Driver with Northstar Bus Lines

Aside from our extensive training, becoming a bus driver with Northstar Bus Lines requires a little preparation and licensure. Rest assured the process is worth it— with Northstar, you’ll be joining a community of well-supported, well-paid service-people who strive to make a difference in the days of their passengers.

Below, you’ll find a brief description of what you have to do before applying for a full driving job with us. If this is confusing, don’t worry! When you apply for a job with us, we’ll walk you through the whole licensure process to make sure that everything is taken care of and that you, as a driver, truly understand what your licence enables you to do.

How to Become a Bus Driver:

Start with a Permit

Becoming a bus driver requires that you first obtain what’s called a Minnesota Commercial Driver’s Licence—a CDL for short. This process is extremely similar to applying for a regular, noncommercial driver’s licence (the kind most people get when they turn 16). There are many classes of CDL; most bus drivers carry either a class A or B, with special endorsements (permits) for vehicles such as school buses.

However, before you apply for a CDL, you’ll need to apply for a CLP: a Commercial Learner’s Permit. You’ll take a written exam at your DMV and pay a small fee; if you pass the exam, you will receive your CLP from the Department of Vehicle Services. This nonrenewable permit is good for six months, and you must hold the permit for at least 14 days before applying for a full CDL.

When practicing with your CLP, federal laws state that you must stick to public roads and always have a full CDL holder with you in the vehicle. You are not allowed to drive students at this time.

Test for Your CDL

To get your CDL after your permit, you’ll take a pre-trip inspection test, a basic control skills test, and finally, a road test. Make sure to take these tests in the same type of vehicle you’ll be using your CDL for! CDLs don’t work like typical drivers’ licences; they can impose restrictions on exactly what type of vehicle you’re licenced to drive. If you’re training with us, we’ll make sure you fully understand these restrictions, as they can get a little confusing.

If you pass the test stated above, you’ll schedule another appointment to file away the paperwork. Bring your regular driver’s licence, your CLP, and your social security number. You will undergo a vision exam and have your photo taken—just like you do with a regular driver’s licence. You’ll also have a background check; certain felonies will disqualify you from getting a CDL. If all that checks out, however, your CDL is good to go!

To drive a school bus specifically, you will also need to apply for a school bus endorsement on your licence, which formally allows you to drive a school bus.

Endorsement Procedures

To hold a school bus endorsement on your CDL in Minnesota, in addition to the procedures stated above, you have to:

  1. Undergo a criminal background check
  2. Undergo a “driver history” check, in which your record is looked over for traffic and safety violations, as well as DUIs
  3. Pass a health check
  4. Take an additional written exam and demonstrate applicable road skills

These procedures are put in place to ensure the wellbeing of both the passengers and drivers alike. They help keep everyone safe on the roads, which is critically important if you’re driving a school bus.

Still Confused on How to Become a Bus Driver?

If you are, feel free to call Northstar Bus Lines with questions, or let us know if you’re interested in training with us for your CDL. We understand that getting certified can be confusing for many people; this is why we also provide assistance with the licensure process. You can reach our Maple Grove location at 763-425-2542.

Ready to become a driver? Fill out our online form today, and someone will be in touch!