20 Pros & Cons of Being a School Bus Driver

School bus drivers have an immense responsibility.

55% percent of K-12 students ride a bus to school.

This means that school bus drivers take 25 million children to school every day and, each year, school buses provide 10 billion student rides to and from schools.

Plus, besides safely and properly transporting students, school bus drivers often have to respond to medical and other types of emergencies that may arise during the ride.

They may have to deal with disciplinary issues that erupt on the bus, including outbursts of violence, and ensure that every child in the vehicle feels safe, protected, and secure.

If you can see yourself thriving in such a role, you should consider becoming a school bus driver.

Here’s a list of 10 pros and 10 cons of pursuing this outstanding career path.

Pros of Being a School Bus Driver

1. Opportunity to work with kids

If you think you have to be a teacher or daycare worker to be able to work with kids, think again.

Driving buses is an equally viable job that allows you to work with children.

Kids can be huge balls of energy, making bus rides fun, unpredictable, and filled with adventure.

Due to kids’ impulsive nature, bus drivers have to constantly be on their toes and make sure all the kids are behaving properly.

Interacting with kids can bring a lot of happiness into a bus driver’s life.

It can also show them different perspectives on life and even help them channel their inner child.

2. No college degree required

Unlike their peers who work in jobs requiring college degrees and have to pay off massive amounts of student debt, school bus drivers don’t need to have a degree.

In fact, in many cases, they don’t even need to have a high school diploma.

Instead, upon being hired, bus drivers have to receive up to three months of on-the-job training, which combines classroom and driver training.

During training, they learn topics ranging from driving and safety rules outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation to first aid and CPR.

Typically, there are also special driving courses where drivers can practice, for example, turning, reversing, and parking the bus.

Although a degree isn’t required for school bus drivers, they do need to have a clean driving record and, as school employees, might have to undergo a background check.

3. Time off when kids aren’t in school

Since kids have summer vacation, bus drivers get to enjoy a decently long summer break, unlike the majority of people in other jobs.

Bus drivers are also off on weekends and many holidays, so bus drivers have many more days off per year than most other people.

As a result of the longer time off, they can more easily get involved in side-hustles or just take advantage of more leisure time.

Thus, it’s safe to say that being a bus driver allows you to live a fairly balanced life.

You get to perform work that’s meaningful and rewarding, but you also get to dedicate a great deal of time to the things you love outside of your job.

4. Not a mundane job

Being a bus driver is never boring or mundane. First of all, as a driver, you have to be alert on the road, especially in rush hour traffic.

You should always practice defensive driving, and you have to bear in mind the safety of the kids on board.

Speaking of safety, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all the kids are behaving properly and treating each other well.

Disciplinary problems, including outbreaks of violence, can erupt when you least expect them, so you have to constantly be prepared.

Many people get a thrill out of jobs like this. For them, the riskier and more unpredictable the job, the greater the reward.

If you’re this type of person, being a bus driver might be for you.

5. Perfect for driving enthusiasts

But, if you’re not a fan of driving, maybe you should consider another opportunity.

Being a bus driver is an extremely large undertaking.

You’re not only transporting up to 90 kids to and from school; you’re also making sure their safety needs are being met, as well as maintaining an overall positive atmosphere in the vehicle.

A bus driver who doesn’t enjoy driving will likely lack the energy and motivation to perform such responsibilities, which will be detrimental to the kids’ (and the driver’s) wellbeing.

On the other hand, a driver who’s enthusiastic about driving will be more motivated to do their job well, and the kids on the bus will be in better hands as a result.

6. No office drama

Workplace incidents are inevitable almost anywhere, but bus drivers don’t often have to deal with office drama.

That’s because they work independently and don’t have to stress about things like getting into arguments with colleagues or competing in office politics.

Like teachers, bus drivers mainly have to focus on the behaviors of their students.

When a student misbehaves, it’s the driver’s responsibility to alleviate the issue.

In the vast majority of cases, misbehaving students improve their behavior when the bus driver responds appropriately.

That is when the driver responds without threats or physical force and speaks to the offender(s) in a courteous but firm manner.

7. Minimal training

As we mentioned before, bus driver jobs don’t require a college degree, and in a good number of cases, a high school diploma isn’t required either.

In addition, on-the-job and classroom training is quite minimal.

Bus drivers receive a maximum of three months of training in which they learn about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s driving and safety rules, as well as essential emergency procedures.

Oftentimes, drivers can opt for special driving courses where they can learn different driving techniques, like reversing and parking the bus.

8. Not too many hours

School bus drivers generally work less than 40 hours per week, and many of them work split shifts (morning and afternoon).

For instance, a driver might work from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., with a break in between the shifts.

Add to that the fact that school bus drivers only work when school is in session.

So, it’s easy to see that, when it comes to hours versus pay, bus drivers have it pretty good.

9. Eligibility for benefits

School bus drivers work regular hours and typically receive a benefits package that’s comparable to full-time employees in their school district.

Their benefits may include (but are not restricted to) paid holidays, health and dental insurance, retirement savings plans, and other forms of compensation.

We already mentioned that bus drivers have more time off than most other people.

When we consider the fact that they also have paid holidays, we can see that bus drivers have lots of opportunities to vacation and can enjoy leisure and recreation time.

10. No boss hovering over you

As we said before, bus drivers work independently and don’t have to worry about office drama.

They also don’t have to be concerned about “helicopter bosses” barking orders at them, lurking over their shoulder, and micromanaging everything they’re doing.

Instead, they can work in relative peace, only calling the school principal or their supervisor if and when a disciplinary problem on the bus becomes really serious.

Cons of Being a School Bus Driver

1. Relatively low salary

The average salary for a school bus driver, according to ZipRecruiter, is $33,891, which is well below the national average ($56,310).

School bus drivers very rarely make it above $40,000, so if income is very important to you, this job may not be the best fit.

That being said, bus drivers experience a host of benefits, including time off when school isn’t in session, split shifts (if you like having long breaks between shifts), paid holidays, and medical and dental benefits.

For many people, these advantages far outweigh the disadvantage of below-average pay, making the job worthwhile.

2. Early morning shifts

On average, bus drivers start working at around 6:00 a.m. (5:48 a.m to be exact).

That means they have to wake up between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. each morning, depending on where they live and how long they take to get ready.

If you’re not a morning person, this could be a serious problem.

You run the risk of sleeping through your alarm, running late, and inconveniencing all the kids on your bus.

However, if you develop the habit of going to bed early at a certain time each night, you can turn yourself into a habitual early riser and consistently get to work on time.

3. No chance of teleworking

One major drawback of the school bus driver job is that teleworking isn’t possible.

When school is being conducted virtually (e.g., during the COVID-19 pandemic), bus drivers have no kids to transport and, therefore, have no work to do.

Some bus drivers don’t receive payment in such situations.

In districts with serious budgetary constraints, even full-time bus drivers who are getting paid run the risk of being laid off.

If you choose to become a bus driver, it’s a good idea to have an extra source of income, especially one that’s online, so that you can still work and earn money whenever such a challenge arises.

4. Disciplinary issues

The job of a bus driver isn’t for the faint of heart.

Rather, it requires a lot of thick skin, confidence, physical and emotional strength, and desire to help kids.

Kids can flare up from time to time.

Since their brains aren’t fully developed, they’re often prone to making irrational decisions and acting impulsively.

Their negative behaviors can range from bullying peers to starting fights to shouting obscenities.

As the only adult on the bus (in many cases, at least), it’s the bus driver’s job to make sure everyone is behaving well.

While many people find this job incredibly rewarding, if you tend to be extremely emotionally sensitive, you may want to consider another job.

5. Limited physical movement

Despite the fact that bus drivers sometimes have to stop the bus to control discipline problems, the fact of the matter is that the majority of their time at work is spent seated in the driver’s seat.

While this may be great for those who enjoy being sedentary, it may not be so fun for people who prefer being physically active on the job.

If you’re the latter type and you’re seriously considering becoming a bus driver, you should make sure you regularly exercise and maintain an active lifestyle outside of work.

That way, your job in the driver’s seat won’t negatively affect your physical health.

6. Special qualification probably required

Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance your state requires a special qualification, such as a commercial driving license (CDL) and school bus endorsements.

If this is the case, there’s no need to worry.

The CDL application process involves taking a physical exam, carrying personal documents like your birth certificate or passport, and proof of your state residency.

In order to obtain school bus endorsements, you need to have a clean driving record for a certain period of time.

In the state of Florida, that period is 10 years.

Requirements vary from state to state, but this should give you a good idea of what special qualifications school districts might expect from their bus drivers.

7. Little job security

Since the barriers to entry aren’t very high, many people are qualified to become bus drivers.

Therefore, current school bus drivers can easily be replaced.

Additionally, there’s always the possibility that schools will resort to virtual learning if a serious problem, such as a global pandemic, crops up.

In such cases, bus drivers will not be needed and they will have to find an income-earning opportunity elsewhere.

8. Rush hour traffic

School bus drivers are often driving in the heat of rush hour, both in the morning and afternoon.

Because a lot of other people are busy driving themselves to work and/or taking their own kids to school, bus drivers have to be extra alert and aware.

Many people aren’t fazed by rush hour traffic, but if you’re prone to road rage, you should either find ways to calm yourself down or find another career path.

9. Difficult to break into other industries

Bus drivers who don’t have a college degree or special certification may have a hard time finding jobs in other industries.

While certain industries, such as education, medicine, finance, and IT, often require a higher education degree, working as a bus driver doesn’t require one.

Furthermore, experience in bus driving usually isn’t enough to qualify a person to work in the majority of jobs in these industries.

So, if you’re considering becoming a school bus driver, you need to know first whether it’s going to set you on your desired life and career trajectory.

10. Great amount of responsibility

Note: having a large amount of responsibility can be both a pro and a con.

Firstly, there’s a great amount of joy knowing you’re making a significant positive impact on kids’ lives.

Besides transporting them every day, you’re modeling good behaviors for them, setting a precedent they’ll probably be following for the rest of their lives.

Nevertheless, as the saying goes, with responsibility comes accountability.

If you ever act inappropriately, there’s a host of possible consequences.

Besides undertaking follow-up actions to ensure your behavior and service improve, you have to deal with the fact that, to some level, you failed the kids by modeling negative behavior.

Fortunately, such instances are quite rare, but you should always take your job seriously and be aware of the immense responsibility you have as a school bus driver.

Should You Become a Bus Driver?

As you can see, being a school bus driver comes with many rewards and challenges.

It gives you the opportunity to work with kids, model positive behaviors for the students, and, through your interactions with the kids, gain new perspectives on life.

If you’re an independent person who likes being on the road, becoming a bus driver should definitely be at the top of your list.

However, if you’re an emotionally sensitive person who doesn’t want to deal with kids’ disciplinary problems, you might want to take another route (no pun intended).

All in all, driving school buses is exceptionally rewarding, and, for many people, the many benefits of this job definitely outweigh the drawbacks, making the job worth it.

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