Driving a Taxi Cab

Driving a taxi can have a lot of advantages when compared to working a regular 9-to-5 job. Some of the pros of landing a job as a taxi driver include:

  • Flexible shifts, which can be helpful for:
    • Students.
    • Parents.
    • People looking to moonlight with second jobs.
  • A reasonable salary.
    • Though hourly salaries can be on the low end, most drivers will also make extra money through tips.
  • Minimal training required.
  • The opportunity to work for yourself.
    • While you can opt to work for a company, many drivers own their own taxi to maximize profits.

If you're interested in a driving a taxi, here's what you need to know to get started.

Duties of a Taxi Driver

The main responsibility of a taxi driver is to transport passengers to and from specific destinations safely. But that isn't all there is to the job.

In addition, most taxi drivers will be expected to:

  • Provide good customer service to passengers.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Obey traffic laws and practice defensive driving.
  • Collect fares, including cash and credit card payments.
  • Aid passengers with loading and unloading luggage or bags.
  • Operate the mileage meter.
  • Choose efficient routes.
  • Complete pre-trip inspections to ensure your vehicle is in good working order.
  • Maintain a clean vehicle inside and out.

Who Makes a Good Taxi Driver?

Driving a taxi is much different from a lot of other types of jobs. Some of the unique qualities necessary to succeed in the profession include:

  • Patience.
    • Some nights will be slower than others, and may involve a fair share of waiting.
    • Patience can also help to deal with difficult passengers.
  • Being a good conversationalist.
    • Yes, it might just be small talk. But chatting with your passengers makes the time go by and can land you a better tip.
  • Knowledge of the city inside and out.
    • A big part of being a taxi driver is knowing the best and fastest routes at certain times of the day.
    • While running the meter might sound good in theory, it could cut into your tip or even make your passenger leave the taxi early.
  • Awareness of tourist areas and local events.
    • Knowledge and recommendations of local hotspots or popular current events increases your chances of a good tip.
    • Conversely, you're better able to avoid these places and events and take alternative routes if your passenger is in a hurry.
  • Being a good judge of character.
    • Not all of your passengers will be honest and trustworthy.
    • Knowing when transporting certain passengers is a bad idea can help to keep you safe and avoid a scam.
  • Having good defensive driving habits.
    • Being behind the wheel all day can put you in a lot of dangerous situations.
    • Defensive driving will help to keep you, your passenger, and your vehicle safe.

Basic Requirements to Drive a Taxi

The exact requirements to become a taxi driver vary according to your state and city of residence, as well as the company you want to work for.

Some basic requirements you might expect can include:

  • Meeting the minimum age requirement.
  • Submitting a driver's history report.
    • A clean driving record free of major incidents is required in most states.
  • Submitting a criminal background check.
    • Any history of criminal offenses may be cause for disqualification.
  • Passing a chauffeur's licensing exam.
    • Though not required of all states, some states and companies will require a chauffeur's license to drive a taxi or limousine.
    • This may include passing a written knowledge test and agreeing to a drug test.
  • Proof of residency and/or U.S. citizenship.
    • A state issued driver's license or U.S. birth certificate will be needed before you can be hired.
  • Payment of fees.
  • Completion of on-the-job training.
    • Some but not all companies may require you to complete a training period prior to being hired.
    • Training will typically cover:
      • Traffic laws.
      • Driver safety.
      • Local street layouts.
      • Operating the taxi meter.
      • Operating communications equipment.

Salary Expectations for Taxi Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the annual average salary for taxi drivers is $37,940. However, it is very important to keep in mind that the salary of a taxi driver will depend on several different factors.

A few of things that could affect how much money you bring home include:

  • Whether or not you own your own taxi OR work for a company.
  • The type of vehicle you drive.
    • Drivers of private vehicles, company cars, limousines, and small vans may make more per hour than standard taxi drivers.
  • Compensation from tips.
  • The time of day you work.
    • If your availability is limited, you may not benefit from peak hours or during special events.
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