CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The recruitment process for bus drivers in North Carolina is underway for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.


What You Need To Know

  • The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District is hiring bus drivers 
  • The district is offering a $4,000 sign on bonus 
  • Pay starts at $16.50 an hour


Last fall, several school districts in the state were impacted by "sick outs," when drivers protested poor working conditions and low wages. As a result, districts, including those in Mecklenburg and Wake counties, increased starting hourly pay. 

However, the shortage of drivers remains a problem.

In the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District, an additional 24 drivers are needed to fill seats in order for the fleet of buses to be fully operational. With after school activities and field trips, an additional 19 activity buses are needed.  

The district's transportation director, Brad Johnson says the competition for bus drivers in Chapel Hill is greater than it was before the pandemic. 

“When you have so many school districts surrounding us and we’re all competing for the same employment pool, and we’re also competing with the town of Chapel Hill and the Chapel Hill transit system, we’re also competing with FedEx, with Amazon," Brad Johnson said. 

As incentives to get drivers on board, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is offering a starting pay of $16.50 per hour with an additional $4,000 sign on bonus. 

The district also has to keep current drivers in their seats, which is why they're offering current drivers a $2,000 referral bonus. 

But Brad Johnson says not just anyone can be a bus driver. 

"To be honest, you have to have a love for children. This is not just a job, this is a calling," Brad Johnson said. "We want people who want to feel like they’re committed to a purpose, and their purpose is helping children with education in this area."

That's why Tamala Johnson is perfect for the job. 

“You’re looking at these bright faces, future doctors, future dentists, that’s always encouraging. For me, I just love children so I think this is something I should’ve been doing for a long time,” Tamala Johnson said. 

Tamala Johnson left her corporate job in search of a job with more flexibility. 

"It's a little different during the summer. My routes start at 6 a.m. and I'm done around 2 p.m. You work during the day and you have the rest of your hours in the afternoon," Tamala Johnson said. 

Tamala Johnson, who is a mother of two middle-school aged children, started working as a bus driver for Chapel-Hill Carrboro City Schools seven months ago. She says it's the best job she's had. 

"As long as you pay attention to the materials for getting your CDL, it's easy," Tamala Johnson said. 

Brad Johnson says it takes up to two months from the application process to training to get new drivers ready to head out on their own routes.