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Career Story: School Bus Driver In The Suburbs

School Bus Driver In The Suburbs

Job Title: School Bus Driver

Type of Company: I work for a county school district in a suburb of Washington, DC.

Education: BSN, Nursing, University of Virginia

Previous Experience: I worked for over twenty years as an orthopedic and rehab nurse. Afterwards, I switched to driving buses for the hours and the benefits.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibility as a school bus driver is to transport students safely to and from public school. I drive students of all ages, from preschool to elementary to middle school to high school, and I enjoy all of them.

My day starts very early, regardless of the weather, with a pre-trip bus inspection. On cold days, I let the bus warm up a little; the rest of the year we try to limit our idling to less than three minutes. Once the bus has warmed up, by 6:00 or 6:15AM, I set out to make my first pick-ups and try to get the kids to the school before 7AM. Between routes I usually have a short break, but I rarely leave the bus until I'm done for the morning.

In addition to my other schools routes, I do a pre-school route, picking up 4 and 5 year olds and taking them to a Head Start program. For this I have an attendant to assist me because these kids are so young and so small that they can barely climb into the bus and, once they're in their seats, I can't even see them!

After all the morning driving, I get a mid-day break, but many drivers will drive all day, taking field trips, or ferrying buses to the shop for repairs and mechanical work. In the afternoon, I return to the high school to pick up my students and take them back home. At each stop, I make sure to watch the kids and load or unload them with care. And, of course, I have to make sure they behave while they're riding the bus; staying in their seats is my most important rule.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of doing this is the kids. But the hours and the summers off and the great benefits, including health insurance (even for part-time work) are terrific. And there are always the snow days as well!

The worst part's hard to pinpoint but there are drawbacks for sure: the early hours, bad weather, rude and unsafe motorists, bus breakdowns and, some days, misbehaving kids. Also, the pay is pretty low.

Job Tips:
1.) Drive for a good county that provides extensive bus driver training and support.

2.) Adjust your personal life so you can get to bed early and get enough sleep.

3.) It helps to be self-sufficient, since you have to handle emergencies (and the kids) on your own. And be prepared for things to go wrong.

Additional Thoughts: I had no idea that bus drivers had to spend so much time on mechanical checks. I also had no idea how cold it is outside in the mornings! Still, I would have started doing this when my kids were younger if I'd known more about it; it's a great job for when your kids are in school.

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