A School Bus Driver Shortage Means Lots of Open Jobs. Here’s How to Get One

A school bus drives down a busy street.
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These days, it seems like everybody is an Uber or Lyft driver.

Your neighbor, your uncle, your ex… your ex’s uncle’s neighbor…

One driving job that isn’t gaining as much steam, however, is being a school bus driver. But school bus companies across the country are seriously in need of drivers.

School Bus Fleet magazine surveyed the 50 largest school bus operators in the nation; all reported some level of driver shortage, according to USA Today. Twenty-two percent called the lack of drivers a “severe” issue, while 5% said the shortage created a “desperate” problem.

Not having enough drivers has even led some schools to suspend bus service.

USA Today also reports the availability of higher-paying transportation jobs has created hurdles to hiring school bus drivers, as has to the challenge of having a two-part shift transporting students in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

But for someone up for a flexible schedule (like a freelancer, stay-at-home spouse or someone with a work-from-home job), being a school bus driver could be a great income-earning opportunity.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for school bus drivers in 2016 was $14.50 an hour, or $30,150 a year.

School Bus Fleet’s survey found the average starting pay for the nation’s 50 largest school bus companies increased from $16.24 an hour in 2016 to $16.90 an hour in 2017.

Over a third of the bus companies surveyed said they offer sign-on bonuses or referral bonuses as a way to attract drivers, and 17% increased pay or benefits.

Another upside: You won’t be likely to work weekends, holidays or summers.

The BLS says those interested in becoming a bus driver need to have a commercial driver’s license and a clean driving record. They must also meet certain physical, vision and hearing requirements. School bus drivers have to pass additional tests to get a special endorsement for their license.

Drivers also may be required to be at least 18, have a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a background check and pass random drug and/or alcohol tests.

Sure, shuttling dozens of kids to and from school is drastically different from signing up with a ride-sharing app. But if your local school district is hiring, this in-demand driving job just might be the right gig for you.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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