For Bus Operators – COTA

For Bus Operators

For Bus Operators

Looking to Start a New Rewarding Career?

If you answered “yes,” then a career as a COTA Bus Operator might be for you! Our drivers receive excellent benefits, including a highly competitive salary, health insurance, vacation time and more.

Bus Operator Pay

While in training, student bus operators earn $13.13 per hour.The starting rate for a bus operator, after training, is $17.50/hr. Base pay is supplemented by an annual wage increase (operators with 7+ years earn $28.00/hr), with overtime opportunities.

COTA Bus Operators Carry a Commercial Driver’s License

If you don’t have your Commercial License now, that’s OK. You can still apply. After you are hired, you must obtain a CDL temporary Class B permit before you begin training. Click here to learn more about the CDL process

Obtaining a CDL Permit

In order to start COTA Bus Operator training, you must have a temporary CDL permit. You can get the permit by taking a three part written test given by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. To study for the test, you can get a free copy of the Commercial Driver’s License manual from any BMV office.

After passing the CDL permit test it will cost you $27. There are three parts to the test: General Knowledge, Passenger Endorsement, and Air Brake Endorsement.


You must study the manual carefully to pass. If you don’t pass all three parts in three attempts, you will have to pay another $27 to retake the test.

The CDL permit is valid for 6 months, which gives you enough time to get driver training you will need to take a State of Ohio CDL driving test.

Experience is NOT Required

COTA encourages all interested individuals to apply. You do not need prior commercial driving experience. Our training program will provide all trainees with the essential skills needed to succeed on the job and gives you enough time to get driver training you will need to take a State of Ohio CDL driving test.

`Bus Operator Training

COTA’s Bus Operator training takes place for up to nine weeks.

On your first day, new student operators are scheduled for COTA’s New Employee Orientation Program.The orientation includes presentations on company benefits, meeting the organization vice presidents and learning about each departmental responsibilities.

The first two weeks combine a half day classroom training and half day driving a bus.

In the third through eighth weeks, you will work with one of our trainers. During these six weeks, you will drive a bus every day on Columbus streets learning all 68 of COTA’s fixed routes. If you already have a CDL with passenger endorsement, you will graduate training. If you do not have a CDL with passenger endorsement, a COTA instructor will teach you all aspects of the CDL driving test before you take the Ohio State driving test. You will drive a COTA bus when you take the test.

By the end of training, you will have logged many hours driving a bus, be very comfortable behind the wheel and be ready to begin your career as a COTA Bus Operator.

Bus Simulators

bus simulator dashboard

At COTA we take operator training and the safety of our passengers very seriously. We recently introduced simulator training to improve our bus operator training program. Our new simulators allow us to customize real life scenarios for training purposes.

Break Rooms

All employees have access to our relaxing Day Rooms during breaks and free time. The day rooms are fully equipped with couches, pool tables, TV’s and vending machines and are located in all three of our Columbus locations.

Qualifications for the Bus Operator Position

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must provide a Driver’s Abstract
  • Must have a valid Ohio Driver’s License and qualify to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) permit
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent (G.E.D.) from an accredited school
  • Must have proof of U.S. citizenship or authorization to work in the U.S.
  • Must have one year’s experience in a public contact job, preferably as a sales clerk, waiter/waitress, customer service, etc.
  • Must have a steady work history
  • Must have reliable transportation
  • Must verify the past three (3) years’ driving record and meet the following criteria:
    • No more than one moving violation within 1 year.
    • No more than 2 moving violations in last 3 years.
    • No suspensions for moving violations.
    • No OMVI or DUI in last 5 years.
    • No hit-skip accidents in last 5 years.
    • No ACDA in last 5 years.
  • Must be able to work mandatory overtime to include, but not limited to, early mornings, evenings, and weekends.
  • All applicants must pass our START Customer Service Assessment. This is a multiple choice video-based assessment of customer service skills and judgment.

Prior to the start of training, all applicants will be required to pass a drug test and a physical capabilities assessment, and acquire a Department Of Transportation Medical Card with an expiration date greater than 90 days.

Union Representation

COTA Operators are represented by the Transport Workers Union of America Local 208