Coach Operator Job Description
Coach operators drive large vehicles, such as buses and motorcoaches, usually to transport people from one place to another for field trips, sightseeing tours, and other special events. Transportation companies, depots, and stations hire coach operators to work full- and part-time hours. They travel as a normal function of the job, and may drive outside their home city or state to perform their duties. Coach operators work independently in all weather conditions, and ultimately report to the dispatcher.
Coach Operator Duties and Responsibilities
Daily duties performed by coach operators vary depending on where they’re going and how many passengers are aboard their vehicle. However, there are several common tasks associated with this job, including:
Safely Operate Vehicles
Coach operators drive safely, following all traffic laws and company regulations. This includes maintaining control and order of the vehicle itself by keeping passengers quiet and compliant with safety regulations. They also park the vehicle where it is easily accessible for passengers who need to board and depart the bus.
Coach operators inform passengers when the vehicle has arrived at its destination. They also convey relevant information regarding breaks, delays, and other events.
Coach operators load and unload luggage from the vehicle’s storage compartment.
Coach operators keep their vehicles well maintained and fueled. This includes checking air pressure, refilling fluids, and making minor engine repairs.
Maintain Travel Logs
Coach operators maintain travel logs, filling in appropriate mileage information and other trip details.
Coach operators assist passengers on and off the bus as needed. This may be necessary for elderly or disabled passengers.
Find Optimal Routes
Coach operators find optimal travel routes that are suitable for large vehicles so they arrive at their destinations efficiently and safely.
Collaborate with Dispatch
Coach operators check in and communicate with the dispatcher to keep them apprised of the vehicle’s location and status.
Coach operators write incident and maintenance reports as needed when irregular situations occur with the vehicle or passengers, such as accidents or passenger injuries.
Coach Operator Skills and Qualifications
Coach operators use driving skills and attention to detail to safely operate large vehicles. They use customer service and leadership to keep passengers satisfied and informed. Employers hire coach operators who possess all the following skills:
- Customer service – coach operators interact with passengers of all ages, so employers look for professionals with strong customer service skills
- Communication skills – coach operators relay verbal commands and information to passengers, which requires good verbal communication skills. They also use written communication skills to complete incident reports as needed
- Time management – coach operators use time management to adhere to strict schedules and complete trips in a timely manner
- Leadership skills – coach operators must maintain order and safety protocols on their vehicles, which requires strong leadership skills
- Attention to detail – coach operators maintain good attention to detail at all times, staying aware of road conditions, monitoring other drivers, and safely operating their vehicle
- Physical fitness – coach operators load and unload luggage, which requires physical strength
- Mechanical skills – because coach operators drive and maintain large vehicles, basic mechanical skills are a strong component of this job
- Analytical thinking – coach operators design driving routes and determine vehicle maintenance needs, which requires analytical skills
- Public speaking – coach operators make announcements to passengers at large, which requires good public speaking skills
Coach Operator Education and Training
Coach operators must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers also require coach operators to have a valid CDL, also known as a commercial driver’s, in addition to a good driving record. Some companies prefer candidates who have past CDL driving experience.
Once hired, coach operators go through a paid training program. This training program varies by employer and may last for several weeks. Coach operators in training work with experienced CDL drivers to learn routes and company protocols regarding safe vehicle operation.
Coach Operator Salary and Outlook
PayScale shows that coach operators earn $15.35 in median hourly income. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bus drivers earn a median annual income of $33,010 and a median hourly income of $15.87. Coach operators and bus drivers perform the same job duties and have the same educational background, and sometimes the two titles are interchangeable. The BLS expects employment in this field to grow 6 percent through 2026, which is as fast as the national job growth average.
Employers provide full-time coach operators with insurance benefits that typically include medical, dental, vision, and life coverage. Paid holidays and vacation time are also commonly offered to coach operators. Some companies may offer performance incentives for safe driving, and sometimes uniforms are provided to coach operators. Part-time coach operators do not typically receive insurance benefits from employers.
These books and websites designed for coach operators provide news updates, job listings, professional event dates, useful strategies, and career tips of all types:
United Motorcoach Association – visit the UMA website to get up-to-date news and event information, read consumer and industry reports, and stay in the know on all the issues affecting coach operators and CDL drivers of all kinds
CDL Study Guide Book: Test Preparation and Training Manual for the Commercial Drivers License Exam – prepare for the CDL test with this study guide that provides tips for taking the exam, practicing safe driving techniques, transporting cargo and passengers safely, and operating a large vehicle in a safe, efficient way that will impress future employers
National Association of Motorcoach Operators – this association dedicated to coach operators provides conference dates and extensive membership benefits, including professional networking opportunities and news updates
Professional Coach Operator: The Life and Guide of a Transit Operator – written by a professional coach operator, this book provides comprehensive information about operating big vehicles and managing all the responsibilities and duties that come along with this job
American Bus Association – visit the newsroom, explore career opportunities, and learn more about upcoming professional events at the ABA website
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