Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs drive people to and from the places they need to go, such as homes, workplaces, airports, and shopping centers. They must be familiar with city streets and locations to take passengers to their destinations.

Duties

Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs typically do the following:

  • Drive taxicabs, limousines, company cars, or privately owned vehicles to transport passengers
  • Pick up passengers and listen to where they want to go
  • Help passengers load and unload their luggage
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Check the car for problems and do basic maintenance
  • Keep the inside and outside of their car clean
  • Operate wheelchair lifts when needed
  • Keep a record of miles traveled

Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs must stay alert and watch the conditions of the road. They have to take precautions to ensure their passengers’ safety, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must also follow vehicle-for-hire or livery regulations, such as where they can pick up passengers and how much they can charge.

Good drivers are familiar with the streets in the areas they serve. They choose the most efficient routes, considering the traffic at that time of day. They know where the most often sought destinations are, such as airports, train stations, convention centers, hotels, and other points of interest. They also know where to find fire and police stations and hospitals in case of an emergency.

The following are examples of types of taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs:

Taxi drivers, also called cabdrivers or cabbies, use a meter to calculate the fare when a passenger requests a destination. Many customers request a cab by calling a central dispatcher who then tells the taxi driver the pickup location. Some drivers pick up passengers waiting in lines at cabstands or in the taxi line at airports, train stations, and hotels. Cabbies drive around the streets looking for passengers in some large cities.

Ride-hailing drivers pick up passengers who seek service through a smartphone app. The fare rate can fluctuate depending on demand; however, passengers are notified if the current fare rate is higher than usual. Passengers pay for rides through a credit card linked to the app. Drivers use their own private vehicles and set their own hours.

Chauffeurs take passengers on prearranged trips. They drive limousines, vans, or private cars. They may work for hire for single trips, or they may work for a person, a private business, or for a government agency. Customer service is important for chauffeurs, especially luxury vehicle drivers. Some do the duties of executive assistants, acting as driver, secretary, and itinerary planner. Other chauffeurs drive large vans between airports or train stations and hotels.

Paratransit drivers transport people with special needs, such as the elderly or those with disabilities. They drive specially equipped vehicles designed to help people with various needs in nonemergency situations. For example, their vehicles may be equipped with wheelchair lifts, and the driver helps a passenger with boarding.

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Work Environment

Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs held about 370,400 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs were as follows:

Self-employed workers 43%
Taxi and limousine service 13
Healthcare and social assistance 10
Other transit and ground passenger transportation                                             8

Self-employed workers includes those classified as independent contractors.

Some drivers contract with a dispatch company that refers passengers and allows the driver to use their service facilities for a fee. Drivers who do not own their taxicab may lease a dispatch company’s car as part of the fee. Drivers usually pay for their own expenses such as fuel.

Driving for long periods, especially in heavy traffic, can be stressful for these workers. In addition, they often have to pick up heavy luggage and packages.

Injuries and Illnesses

Taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs sometimes get injured on the job. Most injuries result from traffic accidents.

Work Schedules

Work hours for taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs vary. Some work part time. Evening and weekend work is common. Some drivers work late at night or early in the morning.

Taxi and ride-hailing drivers work with little or no supervision, and their work schedules are flexible. They can take breaks for a meal or rest whenever they do not have a passenger.

Chauffeurs' work schedules are much more structured. They work hours based on client needs. Some chauffeurs must be ready to drive their clients at a moment’s notice, so they remain on call throughout the day.

Education and Training

Most taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs go through a brief training period. Many states and local municipalities require taxi drivers and chauffeurs to get a taxi or limousine license. Clean driving records and background checks are sometimes required. There are usually no formal education requirements, although many drivers have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Education

There are usually no formal education requirements, although many taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Most taxi and limousine companies provide their new drivers with a short period of on-the-job training. This training usually takes from 1 day to 2 weeks, depending on the company and the location. Some cities require training by law.

Training typically covers local traffic laws, driver safety, and the local street layout. Taxi drivers also get training in operating the taximeter and communications equipment. Limousine companies, with an emphasis on customer service, usually train their chauffeurs. Ride-hailing drivers receive little to no training beyond how to work the electronic hailing app so they can pick up customers. Paratransit drivers receive special training in how to handle wheelchair lifts and other mechanical devices.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs must have a regular automobile driver’s license. States and local municipalities set other requirements; many require taxi drivers and chauffeurs to get a taxi or limousine license. This normally requires passing a background check, drug test and a written exam about regulations and local geography.

Regulations for ride-hailing drivers vary by state and city. Check with your local area for more information.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires limousine drivers who transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a passenger (P) endorsement. Drivers must pass knowledge and driving skills tests to receive a CDL.

Advancement

Some taxi drivers start their own cab service by purchasing a taxi rather than leasing one through a dispatch company. For chauffeurs, advancement usually takes the form of driving more important clients and different types of cars.

Personality and Interests

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs typically have an interest in the Building and Persuading interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Persuading interest which might fit with a career as a taxi driver and chauffeur, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs should also possess the following specific qualities:

Customer-service skills. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs regularly interact with their customers and have to represent their company positively and make sure passengers are satisfied with their ride.

Dependability. Customers rely on taxi drivers and chauffeurs to pick them up at the agreed-upon time so they get to their destinations when they need to be there.

Hand-eye coordination. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have to be able to observe their surroundings and steer away from obstacles and dangerous drivers while operating a vehicle.

Map-reading skills. Although many cabs and limousines have GPS systems, it is still important for taxi drivers and chauffeurs to be able to understand directions and read maps. 

Math skills. Taxi drivers count cash when a customer pays a fare and have to be able to make change quickly.

Patience. Drivers must be calm and composed when driving through heavy traffic, congestion, or dealing with rude passengers.

Professionalism. Chauffeurs are the face of their company and are expected to dress, speak, and act in a professional manner when they are with a customer.

Visual ability. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must be able to pass a state-issued vision test in order to hold a driver’s license.

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs usually work with little or no supervision, so they must be self-motivated and able to take initiative to earn a living.

Pay

The median annual wage for taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs was $25,980 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $40,360.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Taxi and limousine service $26,780
Healthcare and social assistance 26,390
Other transit and ground passenger transportation                                            26,140

These wage data include money earned from tips. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs who provide good customer service are more likely to receive higher tips on each fare.

Work hours for taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs vary. Some work part time. Evening and weekend work is common. Some drivers work late at night or early in the morning.

Taxi and ride-hailing drivers work with little or no supervision, and their work schedules are flexible. They can take breaks for a meal or rest whenever they do not have a passenger.

Chauffeurs' work schedules are much more structured. They work hours based on client needs. Some chauffeurs stay on call throughout the day, and must be ready to drive clients at a moment’s notice.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers, and chauffeurs is projected to grow 20 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The growing demand for ride-hailing services, which use electronic hailing through smartphone apps, should increase job growth. Specifically, employment of self-employed workers in this occupation is projected to grow 37 percent from 2018 to 2028. Ride-hailing companies classify drivers as independent contractors, not wage and salary workers.

Taxis and ride-hailing services generally operate in urban areas and complement public transit systems because people who regularly take a train or bus are more likely to use a taxi or ride-hailing service. Therefore, increasing demand for taxis and ride-hailing services should mostly occur in larger metropolitan areas.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for ride-hailing drivers should be excellent. The occupation does not require any formal education and has low barriers to entry. Applicants who can pass a background check and have a clean driving record should have no problem contracting with a ride-hailing company. 

For More Information

For more information about taxi drivers, chauffeurs, and paratransit drivers, visit

Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association

For more information about limousine drivers, visit

National Limousine Association

For more information about ride-hailing drivers, visit

The Ride Share Guy

For more information about commercial licensing, visit

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

 

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