Tired of the 9-to-5 routine in an office? Get out and experience your city: a taxi driving career might be right for you. Sound crazy? Here’s why it might not be.
We all know the drill when it comes to what taxi drivers do: they’re the nice guys who pick you up, help with your luggage and drop you where you want to go. But have you thought about what they do in a little more detail — the skills they require, the income they earn, the hours they work?
If not, read on to find out more about taxi driving jobs around the world. You never know — taxi driving could be the ideal career choice for you. ( to tweet this surprising fact.)
What skills and qualifications do you need?
Taxi driving can be a great for those without sparkling qualifications or the right sort of attitude to work in a 9-to-5 office.
So what exactly do you need to qualify? That can vary widely depending on where you live. Licensing requirements vary by countries and even between different cities in the same country.
In North America, the process is usually quicker and simpler than in the United Kingdom, for example, where more extensive training is required. Wherever you live, however, you’ll usually find that a permit apart from an ordinary driver’s licence is needed.
An in-depth knowledge of your local area comes in handy too. The job is about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, so you need to know how to get your passengers where they want to be.
You might also find that those not local to the area turn to you as a font of knowledge, so being able to wow them with what you know is always a plus point. In some places, you’ll need more than a working understanding — in London, for example, black cab drivers are required to pass .
Of course, if you’re driving the mean streets of your local city, it helps to be able to get from place to place in one piece, too, so faults on your licence are less than ideal.
People skills are also greatly coveted. As a taxi driver, you’ll meet tons of people every day and thousands each year. Each of these will have their own story to tell, and some of them will want to share this with you.
If you’re friendly and approachable, you’ll have an absolute ball. The also increases your likelihood of receiving tips, and these can add a considerable amount to your base income.
On a more practical note, it’s usually necessary to be physically fit to help your passengers with their luggage and have basic money handling skills for collecting and calculating fares.
When you’re choosing a career, you’ll want to know what your hours are likely to be and a taxi driver’s aren’t always attractive. The average cabbie will work 40 (relatively normal) to 60 (rather unpleasant) hours, with jobs often falling over the weekend and at night.
On the bright side,you do have to choose when you want to work, so it may be that you can come to a compromise between finding the most profitable hours and the ones that suit you best.
As with any job, the amount of money you’ll make will vary. Most taxi drivers are independent contractors, so it pays to be productive since your salary will be based on the fares you get. This means that the better you are at identifying the times and places people require a taxi, the more money you’re likely to make.
So how much on average? That depends on where you work. In America, the average driver makes around $25,000 per year, made up of the fares and tips collected from passengers. But this figure depends on where you’re based.
In the District of Columbia, for example, the mean wage is around $35,000 per annum, and drivers in New York and Nevada also average over $30,000. In North Dakota, on the other hand, the figure is closer to $20,000.
Salaries in other developed countries, such as England, are not all that dissimilar. In major cities there, £12,000 to £20,000 is common, with amounts of up to £30,000 not unheard of.
In poorer countries, average salaries are much lower. In India, for example, the typical driver will earn Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 7,000 each month ($94.80 to $110.60).
These figures are based on an average working week of , and they’ll vary from week to week based on the fares you pick up, the number of journeys you make and the hours you work.
Although becoming a taxi driver doesn’t require any particular qualifications, you’ll need to get your hands on an operator’s licence. The conditions for gaining one of these vary from place to place.
In England, different councils have different requirements. As a rule, though, you’ll need to meet these criteria:
- Be in possession of a full UK or EEA driving licence which is at least 12 months old
- Have a clean criminal record
- Be fit enough to pass a medical
- Be older than 18 (in some areas you’ll need to be 21)
- Pass a geographical test (the infamous “Knowledge” for those who want to work in London)
- Complete and pass a driving skills assessment
- Have the right to work in the UK.
In America, these requirements are usually a little less stringent. Although a special permit must be obtained through a local body, the process of qualifying is a lot simpler. Even in New York, a few days’ worth of classes in defensive driving and coverage of routes, bridges and the different neighborhoods within the five separate areas is required; a walk in the park compared to the two years’ that a London cab driver must spend studying for The Knowledge.
Could taxi driving be for you?
It can be an ideal career choice for those who haven’t really found anything that seems to fit, as it’s flexible, varied and accessible to almost everyone, irrespective of their level of education or experience in the sector.
In terms of finding jobs, too, it can be ideal. With the current economic climate as it is, finding job security, especially if you’re self-employed, can be a nightmare, but people always need taxis — how else would they get home after a hectic Saturday night?
It’s not just about opportunities being open, but also being able to seize them and take your fate into your own hands. Gaining a hackney carriage licence can be hard, and there’s often a waiting list, but as a driver, you don’t have to sit around and wait for something to fall into your lap.
Instead, you can look for the taxi driving equivalent to freelancing in the meantime — working for an operating company. This isn’t only an option for those who have the funds to purchase their own vehicle from a company like , but also those who lack their own car, as these can easily be rented from employers.
If you like working with people, managing your own time and having control over your earnings, consider a career in taxi driving today — it could be the best thing you ever do.
Sam Green is a British Journalism graduate working in the digital marketing industry for over four years and specializing in content marketing strategy development. In his spare time, he enjoys travel and photography.