Have you ever considered a job as a school bus driver? There are a few basic skills that you will need to qualify for this position.
The best candidates for bus drivers will have good driving skills. You should not be intimidated by handling a large vehicle. You will also need a commercial driver’s license. While the requirements sound simple, being a school bus driver isn’t always easy.
Across the country, many districts are seeing a shortage of capable bus drivers. Why is it so difficult to keep transportation staff positions filled? The following are just some of the reasons why this profession is dismissed by some as not for them.
Lack of Respect
Bus drivers are often cited as underappreciated staff. Traditionally, school staff members are not paid what they are worth since budgets are often tight. Few other school departments have regular interaction with school bus drivers, so it’s easy to forget the essential service these tireless workers provide.
Another factor contributing to this position’s complication is that it is almost always part-time. This might be a dealbreaker if you are looking for a career that provides full-time hours and associated benefits like health insurance.
Additionally, the hours may not be to everyone’s liking. Bus routes run early in the morning and late in the afternoon, making it difficult for those with families of their own to care for.
Down The Winding, Winding Road
Driving is the main duty of a bus driver, and this means that all the related stress comes with the job. Inclement weather like rain, ice, and snow can make things more difficult, even for an experienced driver.
Every part of the country is unique and there are things like traffic congestion and road construction hazards that can set you on edge while driving a cumbersome bus.
There is also the concern about distracted or rushed commuters missing or ignoring the flashing lights of a bus at one of the bus stops. Bus drivers need to be constantly vigilant and watch out for the safety of their transported kids.
Driving a bus includes following a strict schedule. The school day must begin on time and bus drivers play a large role in getting the kids to school safely and in a timely manner.
There are inevitable delays from sleepy kids who just don’t move fast enough. And then there are unstructured parents who get their children to the bus stop late. Even a delay of a few minutes can adversely affect every stop thereafter on the bus route.
Parents can also make the job of transportation support staff more difficult with last-minute changes to pick-up plans.
Depending on the school or district, routes can become very complicated. While some schools may be districted according to house location, other education institutions allow for a choice of schools or are grade-level specific. This can lead to convoluted routes with extra stops and transfers between buses.
Rising Stress Level
Driving a bus is stressful enough. When you add unruly students as the primary passengers to the mix, it only sends your stress level upward. Of course, patience with overly active students is a necessity.
Often a bus driver will be called on to multitask as they drive. They must provide firm direction to passengers, including preventing fighting or horseplay. Order must be maintained for the safety of all concerned.
Drivers must also document and report any unacceptable behavior to the proper administration personnel to ensure that the discipline policy is followed.
Can I Get Some Help?
With all the above challenges, is it any wonder that school bus drivers feel like their job is an uphill climb? Some busing service organizations have begun to find technical solutions to address at least some of these issues.
Bus routing software can assist in forming the most efficient routes, even when new students must be added midyear.
Radio equipment and location tracking solutions help to keep the base personnel in contact with distant drivers. Some buses come equipped with interior and exterior recording cameras to help ensure safety and for documentation purposes.
There are both obvious and hidden challenges to being a bus driver. However, it can be a very rewarding career! Even if the average bus driver isn’t always shown the appreciation they deserve, you can be confident in knowing that your efforts to get each kid to school safely and on time help improve the learning experience.