Achieving a $100K annual income is a pretty cool accomplishment that not everyone has the opportunity to experience. It’s easy to feel discouraged and think that it may never happen for you. However, in today’s ever-evolving world, there is a growing variety of professions that can lead to a six-figure salary, some of which might surprise you. While aiming for an executive position can easily net you over $100K, it’s worth considering that driving a bus can bring in the same.

No college degree required.

In this article, I’ll tell you how

 By now, it is widely known that there is a shortage of bus operators nationwide, while this may be causing frustration for recruiters and agencies– this shortage presents a unique opportunity for candidates to seize. Whenever there is more demand than supply in any field, it naturally drives up the price. I can personally attest to this, as when I first embarked on my transit career in 2010, the entry-level wage was a mere $13. But times have changed, and now some agencies are offering a starting salary of $30 per hour.

Beginning your career now as a bus operator can provide you with a decent salary of approximately $26 per hour, or around $55,000 per year without factoring in overtime. That alone won’t reach the coveted $100,000 we mentioned earlier. However, rest assured that we will explore ways to bridge that gap.

To set your sights on a six-figure income, it’s crucial to understand the dynamics of transit assignments. Typically, there is a higher demand for bus trips during the morning and evening rush hours when commuters, 9-to-5 workers, and school kids are on the move. This means that between 6 -9am and 2pm-7pm, there is a greater need for buses compared to other periods of the workday

Because the demand for bus trips fluctuates, operators often enjoy 4-5 hour breaks during the midday when ridership is lower. These unique assignments, known as split/swing shifts, may result in longer workdays, but they come with great advantages, including a spread time penalty. This penalty ensures that operators are compensated for being on assignment for more than 11 hours, providing additional pay during their break time. So, not only do operators have the opportunity to rest or pursue other activities during their break, but they also receive extra compensation for it.

In essence, spreadtime occurs when you are on assignment for more than 11 hours. To comply with state laws or contracts you are entitled to some form of compensation, commonly referred to as a spreadtime penalty. This means that the 4-5 hour break we mentioned earlier is actually paid, although not necessarily your full salary. You can expect to receive a little extra income for this downtime. The specific amount can vary and is typically determined by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) To get a more accurate figure, it’s best to consult with your recruiter.

During my time as a bus operator, I made it a mission to seek out assignments that offered a spread time fee of 90-120 minutes daily. With the current base pay rate of $26 per hour, having 2 hours of spread time penalty would mean an extra $52 in my pocket every day, or $260 per week. To put it in perspective, that’s like earning $10.50 per hour just to relax, take a quick nap, or even attend college.

Over the span of a year, I could accumulate an extra  $15K by essentially doing nothing. Let’s incorporate that into my annual salary. So now I’m looking at around $70,000 per year, and the best part is, I haven’t even touched overtime yet. Which in this industry, is not hard to come by, and it plays a significant role in maximizing your earnings.

Typically, it is difficult to avoid working overtime in the transit industry. With a shortage of drivers and the inherent nature of the business, overtime has always been necessary for the industry to thrive. As a result, when factoring in my base salary of $26 per hour, my overtime rate would be approximately $40 per hour.

To reach our goal of $100,000 for the year, we currently have $70,000 and need an additional $30,000 in overtime. While it may sound challenging, breaking it down reveals that it’s actually quite easy. By working an extra 14 hours a week, which equates to a little over two and a half hours per day, you can make that extra $30,000.

In the transit industry, this is incredibly achievable. Two and a half hours is as simple as adding one more round trip to your daily schedule.

Not to mention, In the transit industry, finding straight 8-hour runs is quite rare as most assignments tend to last between 9-and 10 hours anyway.

There are four ways you can easily accumulate extra hours in transit. You can choose to work before your actual assignment begins, continue working after it ends, utilize that sizable break we mentioned earlier, or even work on your days off. With these options, you only need to accumulate 14 additional hours, and the possibilities are vast. It is important to understand your own body in order to determine the best strategy that works for you. Divide the extra 14 hours a week as you wish.

I found it beneficial to utilize one of my days off and work during my break once a week. Personally, I preferred having Sundays and Mondays off. I discovered that Monday practically guaranteed me overtime, as it tends to be a busy day. Additionally, I could always pick up extra work on Fridays or Saturdays because those days often had a high number of call-outs.

Consider that these numbers are based on entry-level wages. As your career progresses into years 3 and 4, reaching this goal becomes even more attainable, especially since certain agencies offer top wages that have a base of $80,000.

In conclusion, achieving a goal becomes exponentially easier when you have a well-thought-out plan in place. However, if you find yourself lacking a plan and are intrigued by the potential of leveraging a career in transit to earn a six-figure income, purchase a house, or even start your own business, don’t hesitate to schedule a conversation with one of our recruiters at Our team possesses the expertise and knowledge to guide you towards leveraging a career in transit to achieve your personal goals