As I reflect on my own journey growing up, one of the most startling realizations was the exorbitant cost of college. I can vividly recall the excitement of standing in the registration line back in 2008, surrounded by hundreds of eager 18-year-olds, all filled with hope and anticipation for the future we were about to build. However, it didn’t take long for the harsh reality to set in.

College is expensive bruh 😅


Trade school is expensive.😅


Potatoes are expensive. 2023 is wildin’


Anywho–acquiring any sort of skill is expensive, and will more than likely put you in some form of debt before you have a real job. My momma would define this as “the real world”. But I went for it, and a semester or two later,  like a lot of other aspiring young adults, I realized this just wasn’t affordable. 😒Although I didn’t have a college degree at the time, the fundamental math skills I did have consistently reminded me that there was no way I was going to be able to maintain this over the following four years. I was working as a cashier at a supermarket at the time, making around $5.40 an hour

So I remained in the workforce and landed a cool opportunity driving the bus for MTA. In addition to the free CDL and great money I made, I came across this wonderful little gem that I wished transit leveraged more in recruiting called Tuition Reimbursement.  Here’s how it works in a nutshell. The transit company will pay for your college if you agree to drive the bus for a little bit and get a degree that would help you advance the company.

There may be a few terms associated with the program, but nothing outlandish. If we’re being completely honest, everything has a condition. The majority of opportunities come with a caveat, and if you use them well, you can always profit. Today, I want to explain how you can earn free education by working as a bus operator.


 Apply With Transit Gigs

When compared to job searching platforms, or other recruiters, one advantage of applying with TG is that our agents are, well, agents, and you receive one when you apply for free. Your agent works with multiple agencies and employers in an effort to get you the opportunity you want. If your long-term goal is a business career, we’ll find the agency for you that will help you get there. If your goal is a free master’s degree, we’ll help find you an agency that can help get you there.

Standard recruiters are under pressure and have quotas. That is not how Transit Gigs operates. We don’t want to “get you anywhere,” merely to check a box; otherwise, churn would occur. We believe that people marry people they like, and you like your job a lot more when it meets needs that aren’t found in a paycheck.


Get Familiar With The Gig

(Pay $45,000-$55,000. Timeline: 18 Months)

Connect you with an agency that offers tuition reimbursement.  Use our filters to hone in on the ideal choice.

Upon getting a transit job, enjoy the free CDL. I know I keep mentioning that, but it’s super important, and here’s why. A CDL is a valuable asset that practically guarantees you will never be without a source of income. Even if you have to pull together a few pennies and perform a few jobs you don’t enjoy in between jobs, a CDL will never leave you without possibilities. Our industry will not be taken over by robots anytime soon.

After you finish the paid training, take about a year to get used to the way transit works. The way the job feels and how it impacts your body. Learn the system, industry, and its nuances. Master them. Keep in mind, you don’t have to “like it” per se. This is an investment in you and your future, and sometimes investments take time and patience. Take a year to make a few bucks, learn the job, and adjust to the new lifestyle. Stay away from accumulating big debts like car loans. They’ll force you to have to work harder and longer, and we don’t want that right now.


Go To School

(Pay $55,000-$70,000 Timeline 4-5 years)

A lot of people shoot down the way transit scheduling works. Here’s my advice, work the schedule don’t let the schedule work you. In the beginning, you’ll be stuck with the “bad shifts” Don’t sweat them, those are just a part of the job. I think these should change, and I believe they will.  However, for the time being, you can find massive leverage in them. The shifts get better with time and seniority but considering we aren’t here for that, it’s not important right now.

I got a free ride to Morgan State University(Transportation Studies) because I was willing to do the late-night #64. I agreed to work 5 pm-1 am because it allowed me to go to class from 8 am-12:30 pm. Not to mention working late at night, your layovers (time the bus is sitting waiting to go the other direction) are much longer, which makes it super easy to go over notes and review course stuff.

Late shifts and split shifts are perfect when you’re going to go the college route. Night assignments allow you to have all day off, and split shifts allow you to go to class in between trips. As an operator, certain assignments have breaks that can be 4-5 hours long. Perfect time to take advantage of Economics 101

You’ll probably end up with weekdays off, which is fine. Plenty of time to hang with friends, attend a happy hour, and enjoy the luxury of going places without lines and crowds. You may miss the weekends every now and then, but, you’re on a 4-year mission. The weekends off will come soon enough. When I attended Morgan State, my friends had weekends off and had nowhere near the money I had. Just saying.

Can I give you a life principle?

Do what you have to do now, so you can do what you want to do later.

Transit has the advantage of having many departments, this gives you leverage in choosing a field of expertise that aligns with your goals. Business development, entrepreneurship, urban planning, engineering, and even technology are all valid options. I personally took up transportation studies but there are dozens of options that have nothing to do with an actual bus. I learned a lot of cool things in that time frame like how roads are built and why traffic operates a certain way. Even learned how some buildings are built in relation to roadways.

This course allowed me to easily transition to MTA’s service development department, while also qualifying me for cool jobs like traffic engineer. This took me a total of maybe 3 years to do and if I can do it, so can you! Good luck and drive safe.