Passenger Transport Driver Apprenticeship | Transport Training Services

A passenger transport driver apprenticeship is a training scheme that leads to a career as a bus or coach driver.  

A passenger transport driver carries people to and from their destinations, whether that be school or work; shopping; going to the doctors; visiting friends and family; or even sightseeing or going on holiday.

The day-to-day role of a passenger transport driver involves safely transporting passengers to their destinations on time and in comfort.

As well as driving safely on our roads, passenger transport drivers today have lots of other responsibilities, including driving economically to minimise the vehicle’s fuel consumption (to keep fuel costs down); ensuring passenger comfort (particularly for those with additional access requirements or mobility restrictions); and making sure that the destination is reached on time, within the transport operator’s timetable.  Bus and coach drivers also have legal responsibilities to carry out pre-journey checks on the vehicle being driven to make sure it is in good working order before every journey.

Bus drivers typically cover regional and local transport, while coach drivers typically cover longer distances, possibly even across Europe.

The Passenger Transport Driver Apprenticeship Programme Covers: 

  • Health & Safety
  • Preparing the vehicle for driving
  • Operation of Vehicle Systems
  • Manoeuvring the vehicle in restricted spaces
  • Driving the vehicle in a safe and fuel-efficient manner
  • Ensuring safety & comfort of passengers
  • Managing the requirements of the route schedule/timetable

otherwise known as

  • Passenger Carrying Vehicle Driver or PCV Driver
  • Bus Driver
  • Coach Driver


  • What are the Career Opportunities for Someone with an PCV Licence?

    There are currently significant skill shortages within driving roles in the transport industry, both in Northern Ireland and further afield.  In terms of career progression there are many opportunities for qualified and experienced PCV drivers.  Some advancement opportunities are as follows:

    Bus or coach driver career progression options flow chart


    • Supervisor / team leader / management
    • Transport planner
    • Transport / Operations / General management
    • Driver trainer
    • You could also aspire to start your own bus or coach business some day

    Also, because driver shortages are common across the world, you could have the opportunity to live and work abroad after you qualify or later in life.

  • How Can I Become a Bus/Coach Driver?

    There are two routes to becoming a bus/coach driver.  If you are between 18 and 24, you could qualify for an apprenticeship (provisional licence not available to under 18s).  Find out more about our Passenger Carrying Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship here.  If you do not qualify under the terms of the ApprenticeshipsNI scheme, which is funded by the Department for the Economy, you can complete PCV driver training at the TTS driving school.

    There are a number of pre-requisites to be achieved before driver training can be carried out.  Please read the guidelines here before applying to complete a course with us.

  • How Much Does a Qualified PCV Driver Get Paid?

    Qualified salary expectations range depending on the role, but bus/coach drivers typically earn between £20-25,000, with more specialist roles commanding much more than this.

    According to Glassdoor, the typical Translink Bus Driver salary is £24,043 per year.

    The best way to ascertain the salary that you could achieve once you are fully qualified is to search job listings to see what salaries companies in your local area are offering.

  • Why Should I Consider Becoming a Bus/Coach Driver?

    Each year there’s around 68 million bus passenger journeys carried out by Ulsterbus, Metro and Glider, and Translink typically operates around 1,200 buses in its fleet.  But this is only the public bus service, there are many privately owned bus and coach operators across Northern Ireland too – somewhere in the region of 3,400 in total.  All of these need drivers!  This demonstrates the size of the employment market for bus drivers in Northern Ireland so there is good likelihood of job availability.

  • Why Should I Choose to Do Truck or Bus Driver Training with TTS?

    TTS is more than a driving school.  As a wholly owned subsidiary of the registered charity, Transport Training Board for Northern Ireland, TTS has a genuine, longstanding interest in facilitating best practice and the highest levels of compliance for the industries that we serve.

    We are recognised as an industry-leading training provider, supporting the Northern Irish transport industry with trusted career development.  Because our sole attention is on the transport and retail motor sectors in Northern Ireland, we have a real depth of knowledge, backed by over 50 years’ experience.

    Our focus is never simply on passing tests, but on providing class-leading expertise, purpose-built facilities and modern teaching methods to deliver relevant skills for the 21st century.

    The TTS training centre is equipped with a fleet of modern training vehicles and a dedicated vehicle manoeuvring area, plus we have a team of highly experienced driving instructors.  We have also invested in a driving simulator, so if you are nervous about getting behind the wheel, you can practice virtually first!

  • Is the LGV or PCV Driver Training Course Only for Men?

    Absolutely not!  Whilst the transport industry has traditionally offered employment opportunities for predominantly male roles, it is currently working hard to attract more female talent.

    TTS is keen to encourage course participants from all sectors of the population and is very active in encouraging more women and people of all ethnicities and minority groups to consider a career in the retail motor and transport industries.

    Check out our Women in Wheels NI page for more information about career opportunities for women in transport.

  • What are TTS’s Facilities Like?

    Transport Training Services has an impressive training centre including modern conference facilities; a variety of fully equipped training rooms and computer suites; a vehicle manoeuvring area; vehicle maintenance workshops and a vehicle body repair workshop which houses a paint booth and paint mixing facility.

    Take the Virtual Tour:

  • Do I Need to Know Anything About Cars/Trucks/Trailers to Start an Apprenticeship in the Motor or Transport Industry?

    As with any new career, some basic knowledge of the job or the subject matter is advantageous but not essential.

    Whilst having some basic understanding will set you off on a good grounding, the biggest asset you can bring to an apprenticeship is enthusiasm.  Having an interest in your chosen career is a must.

    As part of your apprenticeship we will teach you everything you need to know, including the basics.

  • Will I Fit in as a Female in the Transport, Logistics or Automotive Sector?

    Our existing and past female apprentices and the women that work in the transport, logistics and automotive sectors tell us that they are not treated any differently to their male colleagues.

    They consistently tell us that they enjoy being part of the team, they are treated fairly and equally and they love the banter that comes with being part of a mixed team!

    During your apprenticeship you will be fully supported by both your course tutors and our dedicated Careers Development Officer.  Our Careers Development Officer will be with you every step of the way to ensure you are integrating successfully into your workplace and to provide you with regular feedback on your progress.  Your Careers Development Officer is also the link between you and your employer and is there to make sure any issues, on either side, are resolved quickly.

    If you have any doubts or questions about being a female in the transport or motor industries, join our Facebook group and ask one of our ‘Women in Wheels’ – a group of friendly, inspiring and dedicated women who are either existing apprentices, are recently graduated apprentices or are experienced women working in a range of role across the sectors.

    Women in Wheels NI Facebook Group: 

  • Do I Need to be Physically Strong to Drive or Fix Trucks, Buses or Trailers?

    With advances in technology in vehicles, ‘brute strength’ is no longer required for driving or fixing trucks and buses!

    Today, automotive technology is moving more towards computers than turning spanners, and because of improving health and safety legislation, there are tools and equipment these days that make these traditionally manual jobs much safer.  Heavy lifting is done by machines in most cases.

    Automotive technology is all about solving problems as much as it is about the actual fixing and much of the problem-solving these days is done by computer-based diagnostics.

    And driving trucks and buses is becoming more and more automated so the days of using muscle to turn a steering wheel on a heavy vehicle are long gone.  Today’s drivers are highly skilled.

    So, although transport, logistics and automotive are excellent career choices for people who like to use their hands, physical strength is not a pre-requisite.

  • Why Should I Consider a Transport/Logistics/Automotive Apprenticeship?

    We know that the transport/logistics and motor sectors have a lot to offer. Aside from the excitement, variety, problem-solving and technology involved, both sectors are in high demand and so provide good long-term job prospects.

    The motor industry employs 823,000 people and contributes £18.6 billion to the UK economy.

    Due to the highly rural nature of many parts of NI, transport by car is the only viable option for travel and commuting.  Without the motor sector we would not have cars that are safe and legal to drive.

    The road transport industry employs 2.7 million people and contributes £124 billion to the UK economy.

    Everything that comes into or goes out of Northern Ireland travels by road, whether it’s clothes, food, fuel or your online orders, so the career opportunities are vast and diverse.

    Transport workers are essential in our everyday lives.  The recent covid-19 pandemic showed the importance of transport and logistics and demonstrates that even when the economy dips, transport stays strong and in demand.

    1.2m vehicles licensed in NI – all need maintained/repaired

    150,000 goods vehicles and 3,400 buses all need drivers

    A combination of an ageing workforce, lack of investment in apprentices after the last UK recession, a lack of diversity and the impact of Brexit means our sectors are facing a shortfall of talent across all areas.  This means qualified transport and automotive apprentices, once qualified, are in high demand!

     Once you enter a career in transport or automotive, there is plenty of opportunity for growth and advancement.  Find out about the career path opportunities here.

    Apprentices are also crucial in bridging the gap in future technologies in these sectors.  TTS apprentices will increasingly bring skills that may be lacking in transport and automotive businesses in Northern Ireland today.  We already train apprentices in hybrid and electric vehicle technology and are already looking to the future of hydrogen power, for example.

    Additionally, women now account for 35% of registered car keepers in the UK and so are increasingly involved in car buying and servicing decisions.  Many women feel more comfortable interacting with and asking questions of female mechanics and service advisors, so employers have a desire to hire more women.

  • How Do I Apply to be an Apprentice?

    The first step is to complete an online application, which can be found here.  When we receive and process your application, you will be invited to TTS to participate in a range of aptitude tests.  Please note, any candidate under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

  • What Support Will I Receive Throughout My Apprenticeship?

    TTS is consistently praised for its support of its apprentices. We have a dedicated Careers Development Officer to provide ongoing pastoral care to ensure you are developing well and integrating successfully into your workplace, and to provide you with regular feedback on your progress.

    Your Careers Development Officer is also the link between you and your employer and is there to make sure any issues, on either side, are resolved quickly.

    Proof of the quality of support available is the large number of employers who themselves came through an apprenticeship with TTS and want a similar, quality experience for the staff they employ.

    You can find out more about our pastoral care by downloading our Apprentice Pastoral Care Handbook here: Download PDF.


  • What Does it Cost to be an Apprentice?

    Nothing! Unlike most university courses, there is no cost associated with training during an apprenticeship!  On the contrary, apprentices earn a decent wage from day one. Read more about apprenticeship wages here.

    Some apprentices may, however, be required to invest in some tools.

  • When is the Best Time to Find an Apprenticeship?

    TTS normally starts new apprentices in September, mainly because this fits into the typical school-leaver schedule.  The best time to look for an apprenticeship, therefore, is between January and June prior to the September that you wish to commence.   Some employers start recruiting as early as Spring so the earlier you apply the more opportunities you will be able to be considered for.

    Having said that, we often have demand from employers throughout the year for new apprentices, which we can accommodate because our apprenticeships are modular.  This means you could start the apprenticeship later in the term and simply complete the modules in a different order, if we have sufficient numbers for a full class of late starters or spaces to fill on existing classes.


  • What is an Apprenticeship?

    According to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) an apprenticeship is “a work-based training programme that provides the learner with practical skills through on-the-job training combined with theoretical knowledge through off-the-job learning”.

    A TTS apprenticeship is a three-year employment opportunity which provides paid work experience and nationally recognised qualifications.

    Transport Training Services is a social enterprise focusing on apprenticeships and career development training specifically for the retail motor trade and transport industry in Northern Ireland. Backed by over 50 years’ experience as a leading, recognised transport training service provider, our advice is sought after and trusted around the UK and Ireland. As a wholly owned subsidiary of the registered charity, Transport Training Board for Northern Ireland, TTS has a genuine, longstanding interest in promoting apprenticeships to young people in Northern Ireland to secure the future workforce of these sectors. We aim to support local employers to fill skills shortages that currently exist within the labour market.

    You must understand from the outset that, by accepting an apprentice, you are making at least a three-year commitment to employ him/her. There is also an expectation that you will retain the apprentice post-qualification. In our experience, it is rare for an employer to let an apprentice go after the three years, because when an apprentice becomes fully qualified this is when he/she become most valuable to an employer.

  • What is the Apprenticeship Age Limit?

    TTS apprenticeships are funded by the Department for the Economy. In September 2023, the Department for the Economy launched ‘All Age Apprenticeships’ which lifted the age restriction to allow anyone to apply for an apprenticeship.


  • How Much Does an Apprentice Get Paid?

    The apprentice minimum wage, which is set by the government and which changes at least every April, depends on:

    • Your age
    • The year of apprenticeship you are in

    For those aged under 19 or those aged 19 or over who are in the first year of their apprenticeship, the minimum apprentice rate applies (April 2023 rate is £5.28 per hour).  If you are 19 or older, and have completed your first year of your apprenticeship, the National Minimum Wage applies for your age group.

    You can find out more about legal apprenticeship wages here and national minimum wages here.

    Whilst these are the minimum wages set by the government, TTS apprentices are employed by a local company in the motor/transport industry from day one and many of these employers choose to pay more than the minimum legal standard.  Certain types of apprenticeships also tend to command a higher rate. It is important to keep sight of the long-term goal when entering into an apprenticeship though. Transport and motor industry technical and driving professions are in high demand and offer excellent career prospects. Find out about career progression opportunities here.


  • How Do I Find a Motor, Transport or Logistics Industry Apprentice Employer?

    While many apprenticeship candidates are able to find their own employer, others use our matching service that brings potential new recruits together with employers that have suitable vacancies.

    If you are fortunate enough to have a pre-existing connection to an employer that is seeking an apprentice, we can help to set up the apprenticeship to support both you and the employer.  If it not an employer that we have worked with before, we will need to carry out some basic quality checks, such as the employer’s workshop facilities, insurance and health and safety procedures.

    At TTS we really want to support those that show an ability and/or ambition to have a career in the automotive or transport industry.  While we cannot promise that we will be able to match you with an employer, we have a large network of contacts that we can put you in touch with.  We work with a range of vehicle manufacturers and local companies that employ apprentices that we can signpost you to and we can help you with CV writing and interview preparation to give you the best chance at securing a position. 

    All TTS apprentices are on the payroll of their apprentice employer for the duration of the apprenticeship.  Being employed from day one generally means there is greater investment from the employer to make the apprenticeship successful.


  • What Can I Expect From an Apprenticeship in the Motor / Transport / Logistics Industry?

    According to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) an apprenticeship is “a work-based training programme that provides the learner with practical skills through on-the-job training combined with theoretical knowledge through off-the-job learning”.

    A TTS apprenticeship is a three-year employment opportunity which provides paid work experience and nationally recognised qualifications.

    By embarking on an apprentice, you are generally making at least a three-year investment in your future career, but in our experience, it is rare for an employer to let an apprentice go after the three years, because when an apprentice becomes fully qualified this is when he/she become most valuable to an employer.

    To give you an idea what to expect from an apprenticeship at TTS, you can check out some videos of what our existing and past apprentices have to say.  Click here to watch the videos.

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