During the height of the pandemic, many schools were forced to handle education remotely, reducing the need for school bus drivers. However, now that schools are transitioning back to the classroom, that demand has returned and there are not enough drivers to fill the demand.
A major reason is the pandemic itself. Many drivers are retirees who enjoy supplementing their retirement with part-time work. Yet, because Covid is far more dangerous for the elderly, many former drivers have parked their buses for the last time rather than risk the potentially deadly virus.
The school bus driver role is far more important than most people realize, as, without adequate transportation, many children cannot attend school and earn their education. The job can be challenging, but if you think you might be able to handle it, it is an opportunity to earn extra money while providing an invaluable service to your community.
School Bus Driver Job Requirements
A school bus is a long vehicle that can be difficult to maneuver without proper training. As a result, you must have a CDL bus license. You are also expected to have a high school diploma or equivalent GED, years of driving experience, and a clean record.
Here are some other skills which can be beneficial for successful school bus drivers:
- Multi-tasking - As you will be driving a bus loaded with active children, you must be able to focus on your driving while keeping an eye on the kiddos in the back as well. It is also important to halt and report any harmful or inappropriate activities that violate proper bus conduct.
- Children Rapport - As you will be working with children, it is important to be able to build a good rapport with these students and create healthy relationships.
- Communication - You will need to be able to communicate well and be able to follow directions. Bus drivers often communicate with students and the transport department, but from time to time may speak with parents, school personnel, school administration, and others. It is important to be able to speak clearly and follow proper etiquette.
- Problem-solving - Not only will you have to make decisions about circumstances regarding bus routes, but you will need to be able to handle situations that arise involving students during transport and other miscellaneous problems that arise.
- First-Aid - In the event of an emergency, a bus driver needs to be able to handle basic first aid procedures to solve minor medical emergencies or at least properly support a medical emergency until full-trained medical personnel arrive on the scene.
- Safety Procedures - To ensure transport is as safe as possible, you will need to have a firm grasp of what is required both for safe driving and onboard safety procedures to make sure your riders reach their destinations with minimal risk.
- Record-keeping - More than likely, you will be expected to keep certain records involving information such as how many students you transported on a certain trip, how many stops you made, whether any unusual activity took place, and other information.
- Patience - It can be no easy task to juggle bus driving responsibilities with monitoring bus conduct and student behavior. It is easy to become frustrated, so an important skill for bus drivers is the ability to remain cool and collected, exhibiting patience.
Pros and Cons of Bus Driving
There are many positives to becoming a school bus driver, and inevitably, a few downsides as well. Here are some of those considerations:
- The job is important, and you can feel good that you are an important part of the education system.
- You can work with children, serving as a role model and possible influence in their lives. With the right attitude, you can make a difference in the lives of these children.
- When school is not in session, you get time off to focus on other important aspects of your life.
- Minimal education is required, making the job accessible for many people in diverse walks of life.
- As a school bus driver, you are eligible for benefits.
- The job does not require many hours and those are not performed consecutively, making it great for those who want a part-time job without dedicating a significant amount of time.
- If you enjoy driving or operating a large transport vehicle, being a school bus driver is right up your alley as you will have the opportunity to do both.
- You are in control of the situation and while you have support from the transport department as needed, you will not face the drama of co-workers or a boss breathing down your neck while you are trying to perform your duties.
- In some districts, there is an established bus monitor who supervises your wards, allowing you to focus solely on navigating the bus safely to the target destinations.
- As you are the head honcho on the bus, that brings a lot of responsibility as the lives of these children are in your hands.
- You will inevitably face traffic and other transport frustrations, especially during rush hour.
- Some bus drivers find the early morning hours and the gap between the trip to school and the journey home to be inconvenient to their life schedules.
- You must be able to maintain discipline and report behaviors as part of the job.
- The position is generally considered to be part-time rather than full-time work and the salary reflects that.
Bus Driver Benefits
Here are some benefits to being a school bus driver:
- The average hourly pay for the position is approximately $18.00 per hour.
- Health, Life, Dental, Retirement, and Rental insurance eligibility
- Sick leave
- Vacation time
- Summers and Holidays off
- The ability to make a positive impact on your community
- And more!