How Can I Become a Taxi Driver?

Discover what it takes to become a taxi driver. Read about training, licensure requirements, income and job potential to see if this is the right occupation for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Taxi Driver?

A taxi driver is a professional driver who has a clean driver's license, has passed a background check, and is, if necessary, licensed by the state or city he or she works in to operate a taxi cab. Some taxi drivers are self-employed and own their vehicle, while others are assigned one from a company's fleet. They transport passengers from one location to another, so they must be familiar with the roads and areas they work in so that they can drive to the destination as quickly as possible. Taxi cabs are typically outfitted with a meter that calculates the fares owed by passengers, and drivers must often spend some of these fares on fuel and maintenance.

Training On-the-job training in local traffic laws, streets and routes, driver safety
Key Skills Safe driving skills, customer service, basic mechanic skills
Licensure Driver's license, taxi license or endorsement
Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% (for taxi drivers and chauffeurs)*
Average Salary (2015) $26,070*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Be a Taxi Driver?

You usually don't need any formal education to become a taxi driver. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that a high school education is common for the profession (www.bls.gov). You should be able to do simple mathematics, know how to read a map and have good communication skills. Rudimentary auto repair might also be useful for unexpected malfunctions.

You'll find preparatory training for taxi drivers are usually offered by employers or through vocational and community colleges and might be required in some cities. Your classes typically cover vehicle commission rules and customer service, as well as familiarize you with the company's service areas. You're generally required to have driving experience and know the rules of the road, though your training could emphasize safety and defensive driving.

What Will I Do as a Taxi Driver?

As a taxi driver, you'll usually start your work day by preparing your vehicle. You'll need to clean and inspect it, including ensuring you have adequate fluid and fuel levels.

The company's dispatcher could assign you fares, informing you of locations to pick up and drop off customers. You might also have a designated starting point, such as an airport or hotel, where you return to wait for customers who need your service. Additionally, you might be allowed to pick up passengers from the street, though some cities restrict this practice. Your job would be to drive customers to their destination and collect your fare and tip. You might work long hours, including weekends, nights and holidays, and be required to load and unload heavy luggage.

Do I Need a Special License?

You'll usually need a driver's license with a taxi or chauffeur endorsement or a specific license for driving a cab. If you drive large vehicles for the company, such as a multi-passenger van, you could be required to obtain a commercial driver's license. Each state sets its own licensing requirements, and large cities often have taxi commissions that set standards for drivers and provide training.

What Is the Job Outlook ?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for taxi drivers are expected to increase by 13% from 2014 through 2024, faster than the average for all other occupations. The BLS reports that as public transportation systems improve, opportunities will increase since more passengers will depend on taxis for rides from train and bus terminals to their final destinations.

New York, California and Nevada lead the states in the highest numbers of employed taxi drivers. District of Columbia taxi drivers earn the highest pay, with drivers taking home average annual incomes of $34,670. Drivers in New York earned an average of $32,390 a year, while those working in Connecticut had average annual incomes of $31,510.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Chauffeurs and bus drivers have a lot of aspects of their job that are the same as taxi drivers. They transport people from one location to another, and they may also assist with luggage. This is more common for bus drivers who transport passengers between cities or states. They all need to perform basic vehicle maintenance and are responsible for keeping their vehicles clean. Chauffeurs need a driver's license, a good driving record, may need to pass a background check and may also need a state or city license. The requirements for a bus driver vary slightly, as they need a commercial driver's license. All of these transit professionals may need to complete on-the-job training.

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