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How Do I Become a Taxi Driver?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated: May 17, 2024

Many people in search of a job decide to become a taxi driver, because the hours can be somewhat flexible, and the pay can be relatively good for a job that requires little or no formal education. There are many different levels of paid drivers, and a taxi driver is generally the cheapest of these, therefore requiring the least amount of experience and investment. As such, many people become a taxi driver if they move from another country, or if they find themselves jobless without pertinent work experience for other available jobs.

Before deciding to be a taxi driver, one will want to seriously consider what it will mean. Taxi drivers are, of course, behind the wheel of a car throughout most of the day and night. They may have to drive in very difficult weather conditions, the worst traffic, and sometimes in rough neighborhoods. They are often driving people who are hurried and unsympathetic to the realities of the road. People who enjoy driving, don’t mind being around people constantly, and who are able to let verbal attacks roll off them are best suited to become a taxi driver.

It should also be noted that, in the United States at least, being a taxi driver is considered one of the most dangerous jobs. Because taxi drivers often have money on them, or at least are perceived to have cash on hand, and are often driving alone at night, and allowing people into their vehicle, they are frequently robbed and even attacked. In recent years a number of safety measures have been put in place, including GPS units on most cabs, and panic buttons that alert all other cabs in the area to an attack so that they can surround the cab and protect it until the police arrive.

To become a taxi driver in most regions of the United States requires that you have a clean driving record, and that you are at least 25 years of age. In most areas, a driver also needs to pass a background check, get fingerprinted, and perhaps obtain a chauffeur's license. In some areas a driver may also need to pass a drug test and medical examination before they can operate a cab.

People who want to drive for an existing cab company can simply apply for a job with that company. Most companies will provide basic training, including route education for the area, and help with getting a license if needed. One can make a decent living working for a cab company, and will receive help finding fares, as well as having the cost of the cab paid for. In some larger cities, like New York, the competition for these jobs may be stiff, and experience may be a prerequisite.

The alternative is to become an independent contractor, in areas that allow independent taxi drivers. In this case, most people lease a cab from a larger company for a set weekly rate. Most independent drivers work at least twelve hour shifts, with the first half roughly paying for the costs of operating the cab, and the second half generating profit. Successful taxi drivers know the routes of their city inside and out, and follow where conventions are being held and when, and generate word of mouth for themselves by being the best at what they do.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By RocketLanch8 — On Apr 18, 2014

@AnswerMan- I drove a cab for a few years while I was in college. I didn't know that town very well, either, but the taxi company gave me a detailed map to study at home. Most of the time, my passengers wanted to go to the same three or four places. I did a lot of runs to the airport, and I also dropped people off at grocery stores or the mall. I also had to learn where the medical offices and treatment centers were located, since a lot of my regular customers were elderly people who could no longer drive.

I only had one really bad encounter with a passenger, but he was heavily intoxicated and I don't think he knew what he was saying. The vast majority of my passengers were courteous to me, and I earned some decent tip money. The job isn't for everyone, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

By AnswerMan — On Apr 17, 2014

I've lived in my current city for over 20 years and I still get lost sometimes. I don't know how anyone could move into a completely unfamiliar place and become a taxi driver. I'd have to have a good GPS device and an up-to-date map app on my smart phone before I'd even try it. Even then, there are bound to be some blind alleys and bad neighborhoods that won't show up on the screen.

I haven't had to take a cab anywhere in years myself, but I'm glad that sort of service still exists.

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