Taxi cab drivers and chauffeurs provide safe road travel to consumers around the globe for personal, business and entertainment purposes. They most often operate automobiles such as taxi cabs, limousines, luxury cars, buses and other utility vehicles to ensure the travel comfort of guests. Taxi drivers are expert drivers who provide transportation on demand for the general public, private clients, high profile individuals or for the convenience of new visitors to cities. They may own their own vehicles, rent vehicles, or work for dispatch or contract services using vehicles owned by a transportation firm or hospitality company. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must have above average driving skills, a detailed knowledge of the areas in which they drive, and a friendly disposition to handle the demands of clients.
- Work as a taxi driver or chauffeur is flexible enough to accommodate occasional, part-time and full-time work schedules.
- Some taxi drivers and chauffeurs own their own vehicles, but the vast majority rent their vehicles from a fleet service or use company vehicles.
- Earnings for taxi drivers and chauffeurs can be significant depending on regional pricing standards and tipping practices.
- Career opportunities continue to be plentiful in many regions, particularly where personal transportation is costly or unavailable.
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must obtain a high school diploma and a driver’s license to work as a chauffeur.
Work Environment for Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
While no two taxi drivers or chauffeur experiences are the same, given the nature and scope of the work they perform, the average work environment consists of driving for long periods of time for a wide range of customers. Many taxi drivers carry out their work daily and provide short-term transportation to customers in busy cities and towns where patrons must travel to and from their homes, work, school or personal outings. Others perform occasional or part-time work on chartered buses or limousines, carrying customers from their homes or hotels to meetings, the airport or to entertainment events. The work requires being able to handle the stress of driving continually for up to ten hours daily, understanding the local area to avoid accidents or traffic congestion, being able to navigate throughout the region and treating customers with respect and courtesy at all times, even when they are being difficult.
Education, Training and Licensing
Most employers who hire taxi drivers and chauffeurs prefer to hire those who have earned at least their high school diploma or a general education degree (GED). In addition, candidates must be able to read and communicate well, be able to read maps or use a global positioning satellite device (GPS), and have excellent eyesight and manual dexterity to operate a moving vehicle at the same time without having an accident.
A clean state-issued driver’s license is required for all drivers and, in most cases, drivers must obtain an official chauffeur’s license which can require an additional written and road test. Drivers, who will be providing services for parties of 16 or more or those who operate stretch limousines, must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a passenger (P) endorsement under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the U.S. A criminal background check is also required by many taxi and limousine companies to ensure the safety of passengers.
Training for taxi drivers and chauffeurs most often takes place on the job, with brief one-to-two week training with other seasoned drivers as passengers. Once the driver can handle a vehicle alone, they are allowed to go out and perform work for private and public clients, under close supervision and with regularly required check-ins. Vehicles must be insured and maintained at all times for safe operation; these costs are either covered by drivers who rent or own vehicles, or the company for which contracted work is provided will handle this.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated there were an astounding 167,740 taxi drivers and chauffeurs working in the U.S., according to the most recent occupational information published in May 2009.
The BLS expects employment in this field to grow 1.4% from 2008 to 2018, which is about the average for all occupations. This growth results from the ongoing need for skilled drivers to provide transportation to consumers around the world who either do not own vehicles, prefer to have others drive them around or can’t afford the high costs of maintaining a vehicle. Chauffeurs are also popular in the entertainment and hospitality industries, which often treat their clients to complimentary transportation services.
Most recent BLS reports indicate that the average annual wage for taxi drivers and chauffeurs was $23,930 as of May 2009. The middle 50% earned approximately $21,960. While the lowest 10% of structural fabricators and fitters earned an annual income at or below $15,950, the top 10% earned approximately $35,020 per year based on documented wages. However, the majority of taxi drivers and chauffeurs also earn cash tips, which can be up to 50% or more of their annual pay, so actual earnings can be as high as $40,000 annually in many regions.