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Taxi Driver Job Description, Career as a Taxi Driver, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Licenses

Salary Median—$10.68 per hour

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Taxi drivers transport passengers for hire. Almost all of them work in cities. Passengers may signal them by hand on the street or find them at hotels and airport terminals. When passengers call cab companies and request taxis, dispatchers contact drivers by two-way radios, cell phones, or computers.

At the start of their shifts, taxi drivers report to garages to pick up their cabs. They check the lights, brakes, and fuel level and start trip sheets, forms on which they record their destinations and fares. In some areas, taximeters determine fares based on distance and time. Drivers turn the taximeters on as soon as passengers announce their destinations and stop them when passengers are dropped off. In other cities, fares are determined by zones or by flat rate. Extra charges may be in effect at night, for handling luggage, or for additional passengers. Information placards in the cabs usually explain how fares are determined. Passengers sometimes give drivers tips. Taxi drivers must be expert at handling automobiles and know their cities thoroughly so they can make trips efficiently.

Education and Training Requirements

The job has no formal educational requirements, but most companies prefer to hire drivers with at least an eighth-grade education. Applicants must be twenty-one years of age, in good health, and have good driving records.

State governments set licensing requirements. In most states, cab drivers must obtain either state-issued chauffeur's licenses or special taxicab operator's licenses. Some states require both. Other states require commercial driver's licenses with "endorsements" to carry passengers. Licenses, which are issued by the motor vehicle or police department or by the Public Utilities Commission, must be renewed every year.

After receiving a call from the cab company telling him where the customer is located, a taxi driver picks up a woman and her seeing eye dog. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Local governments set the standards for taxi driver training. In many jurisdictions, it includes up to eighty hours of classroom instruction, plus testing on local geography, motor vehicle laws, basic automotive repair, and safe driving practices. English proficiency tests may be required.

Some taxi companies also require on-the-job training. Lasting a week or so, this informal training is supervised by experienced drivers, known as lead drivers, and includes instruction on how to operate the taximeter and communications equipment and how to fill out paperwork. Drivers may get special guidance in helping passengers who are elderly or physically challenged.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to taxicab companies. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job sites may provide employment leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Some taxi drivers buy and operate their own cabs. Relatively few supervisory jobs exist, although some drivers may be promoted to dispatcher, claim agent, or road supervisor.

Employment of taxi drivers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. Turnover is high, so cab companies have frequent openings. Fuel prices may spur demand for taxi drivers. Opportunities should be best for those who are willing to work irregular hours.

Working Conditions

Taxi drivers' work is heaviest at rush hours, in bad weather, and on holidays. The job allows for a great deal of independence, but can be stressful if traffic is heavy. Cab drivers may work irregular hours; shifts often last ten hours or more per day with time for breaks. Workweeks run five or six days.

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary, depending on hours worked, fares completed, and tips received. In 2004 the median salary for taxi drivers was $10.68 per hour. Self-employed drivers and drivers who worked in large cities earned more.

Where to Go for More Information

Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association
3849 Farragut Ave.
Kensington, MD 20895
(301) 946-5701

Most taxi drivers do not receive the benefits available to workers in other occupations. Occasionally, full-time drivers get paid vacations and medical insurance.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesTransportation & Logistics