According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 233,000 taxi drivers in the United States as of 2012, and that number is expected to grow in coming years. If you have good customer service skills and enjoy driving, a taxi driver’s license can be a great way to earn extra money working part time, or the start to new career. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but there are some basics to consider.
Most states require that you already have a valid driver’s license in your state of residence. A clean driving record is also a must. In many states you must be 21 years of age or older in order to drive a taxi. To get your taxi driver’s (or "hack") license you may be required to pay licensing fees and pass a written exam, depending on your location. If you are interested in employment with a specific cab company, it might have additional requirements. It is important that you contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles and companies in your area for specific local licensing information.
When applying for your license you will be required to present documentation such as a valid driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of residence and, in some cases, a printout of your driving record. You might also have to submit to a background check and drug test. Many big cities have taxi schools that offer training programs you may want to consider. These schools, such as the Master Cabbie Taxi Academy in New York, offer 24-hour or 80-hour training courses covering local rules and regulations, customer service skills and local geography. Many cab companies also offer on-the-job training for those wishing to apply for licensing.
Skills for Success
In addition to an ability to drive and work well with people, there are several skills needed to succeed as a taxi cab driver. These include math, map reading and geography skills. It’s also important to possess strong communications skills and the ability to remain patient while dealing with traffic and difficult passengers. Good vision and hand-eye coordination are important as a driver must always be alert and able to safely respond to sudden changes in traffic or unexpected barriers.
The BLS projects that employment of taxi drivers will increase 16% from 2012 to 2022, which is above the 11% average growth rate for all occupations. One growth driver is the expansion of public transit systems in many cities. As the BLS notes, "people who regularly take a train or bus are more likely to use a taxi than would people who drive their own car." There should be plenty of job opportunities for aspiring taxi drivers because of the field's low barriers to entry and high turnover.
2016 Salary Information for Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs earned a median annual salary of $24,300 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, taxi drivers and chauffeurs earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,490, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $30,440, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 305,100 people were employed in the U.S. as taxi drivers and chauffeurs.