On the road again: Driving a school bus could be your next career
Aug. 8, 2018 -- Interested in a career that offers a good work-life balance, job security and leadership opportunities?
Consider driving a school bus for Marcellus Central School District.
School bus drivers typically work part-time, in the morning and the afternoon with a long break in between. Interested drivers may decide to cover additional afterschool runs and sports or field trips, but otherwise, they can count on weekends, evenings and summers off as well as paid holidays. The schedule offers a lot of flexibility, which may be perfect for a retiree, stay-at-home parent or college student. In fact, the career of “bus driver” scored an 8 out of 10 for work-life balance in a 2018 Best Jobs Rankings by U.S. News & World Report.
There is no typical bus driver, Marcellus Transportation Director Susan Stearns said. The driver roster at Marcellus has run the gamut from retired police officers to farmers, from former truck drivers to stay-at-home moms.
“What all our drivers have in common is a sense of community, contribution and purpose,” Stearns said. “It’s hard to describe the feeling a driver has when a shift ends and all their students have been safely delivered. They know they’ve played a small but important role in educating future generations.”
Bus drivers can also earn competitive hourly wages and may be eligible for health insurance and retirement plans. Less tangible benefits include:
plenty of time off (school holidays, summers, etc.)
for parents of Marcellus CSD students, working the same schedule as their kids
flexible schedule that meshes well with other part-time work
The U.S. Department of Labor has projected a 6 percent growth in employment opportunities for bus drivers through 2024. Yet, 56 percent of school districts reported a moderate to desperate shortage of bus drivers in a nationwide survey last year (source: National Association for Pupil Transportation). With more job openings and too few drivers to fill them, most school districts are on the hunt for qualified applicants.
In Marcellus Central School District, the Transportation Department is currently seeking to add at least five substitute driver positions. All drivers start as substitutes and, if they wish, work their way up to regular runs, Stearns said.
Driving a school bus requires a commercial driver’s license, a clean driving record and the ability to meet additional standards set by New York state. With about 50 hours of paid training, the district further prepares its drivers to ensure students’ safety while on the school bus.
“We’re looking for independent thinkers who can react sensibly in a variety of situations,” Marcellus driver and trainer Neil Bailer said. “There’s a lot of spur-of-the-moment stuff that comes up and happens every day.”
Ideal drivers need to be prepared to manage myriad weather conditions – and busloads of children.
“A lot of it comes down to common sense,” Bailer said.