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:
- 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:
- 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 $33,300. 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.