Now hiring! New Jersey school bus companies seek new drivers amid shortage
Bus companies are scrambling to fill a school bus driver shortage before the start of the new school year.
Anyone who may have ever thought about driving a school bus in the past may want to consider applying. Wages have risen in the last five years between 20%-25%. Salaries can range between $25-30 per hour depending on where in New Jersey the position is located.
“I love my job. I would love to share that with other people,” says driver Julie Holzer.
Holzer drives with Villani Bus. She and her boss Courtney Villani were discussing how there is a shortage of bus drivers around the country.
“There was a national driver shortage pre-COVID, and it’s still lingering,” Villani says.
The pandemic was a big reason why the shortage lingered. It is a job that relies on retirees at a time when people were choosing not to work. The pay in the past was not always competitive. And not everyone likes the split schedule.
Villani is also a member of the New Jersey School Bus Contractors Association, which has a hiring campaign going on currently. They are trying to attract drivers not only with increased wages, but with health insurance and 401(k) plans.
Some companies will be tight with drivers in September. A South Jersey bus company tells News 12 that new drivers will make up 25% of their staff in the fall. Those new drivers will also need more training.
Villani says her staff will be solid, but she says the company is always looking for new drivers.
“Always interested in getting new drivers through the door and getting them in good capable hands and getting them trained,” she says.
She says it's a great job, not just for the benefits, but also for the influence one can have as a role model for school children.
"We say to anybody, ‘Come on in and be that person that makes an impact on someone,’” Villani says.
There are some requirements to becoming a bus driver. Applicants must obtain a commercial driver’s license and pass a drug test and medical exam every two years. Drivers over the age of 70 will have to pass that medical exam once a year.