Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

Summary

taxi drivers and chauffeurs image
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs transport passengers to various destinations.
Quick Facts: Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
2012 Median Pay $22,820 per year
$10.97 per hour
Entry-Level Education Less than high school
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 233,000
Job Outlook, 2012-22 16% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 36,200

What Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs Do

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs drive people to and from the places they need to go, such as airports, homes, shopping centers, and workplaces. They must know their way around a city in order to take both residents and visitors to their destinations.

Work Environment

About a quarter of taxi drivers and chauffeurs worked part time in 2012. About one in seven taxi drivers and chauffeurs had variable schedules. Work hours for these workers vary. Evening and weekend work is common.

How to Become a Taxi Driver or Chauffeur

Most taxi drivers and chauffeurs go through a brief training. Many states and local municipalities require them to get a taxi or limousine license. Although a high school diploma is not required, many taxi drivers and chauffeurs have one.

Pay

The median annual wage for taxi drivers and chauffeurs was $22,820 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of taxi drivers and chauffeurs is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth will be affected by an increase in paratransit services.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of taxi drivers and chauffeurs with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about taxi drivers and chauffeurs by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs Do

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Many chauffeurs drive limousines.

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs drive people to and from the places they need to go, such as homes, workplaces, airports, and shopping centers. They must know their way around a city in order to take both residents and visitors to their destinations.

Duties

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs typically do the following:

  • Check their car for problems and do basic maintenance
  • Keep both the inside and outside of their car clean
  • Refuel their car when necessary
  • Pick up passengers and listen to where they want to go
  • Operate wheelchair lifts when needed
  • Help passengers load and unload their luggage
  • Drive to passengers' destinations
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Collect fares, including allowed extra charges
  • Provide a receipt if the passenger requests one
  • Keep a record of miles traveled

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must stay alert and monitor the conditions of the road. They have to take precautions to ensure their passengers safety, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather. They must also follow all 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 frequently requested 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.

Taxi drivers, also called cabbies, generally use a meter to determine the fare when a passenger requests a destination. The most common way for cabbies to provide their services is when a customer calls a central dispatcher to request a cab and the central dispatcher tells the taxi driver where to go to pick up the customer. Another way some drivers pick up passengers is when customers are waiting in lines at cabstands or in the taxi line at airports, train stations, and hotels. In some large cities, cabbies drive around the streets looking for passengers, although this is not legal in all cities.

Chauffeurs take passengers on prearranged trips. They operate limousines, vans, or private cars. They may work for hire for single trips or they may work for a person (in general), a private business, or for a government agency. Customer service is important for chauffeurs, especially luxury car 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 operate specially equipped vehicles designed to help people with a variety of needs in nonemergency situations. For example, their vehicles may be equipped with wheelchair lifts, and the driver helps a passenger with boarding.

Work Environment

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Taxi drivers often travel in heavy traffic.

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs held about 233,000 jobs in 2012. About a quarter of taxi drivers and chauffeurs were self-employed. Self-employed drivers may own their own car and contract with a company. The company refers passengers and allows the driver to use their facilities for a fee. Some drivers use a company’s car as part of the fee. Drivers keep all their fares and pay their own expenses.

Other taxi drivers and chauffeurs are directly employed by an organization that provides them with a car. The industries that employed the most taxi drivers and chauffeurs in 2012 were as follows:

Taxi and limousine service21%
Health care and social assistance13
Other transit and ground passenger transportation10

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

Injuries and Illnesses

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. This is largely due to car accidents.

Work Schedules

Work hours for taxi drivers and chauffeurs vary. About a quarter worked part time in 2012 and about one in seven had variable schedules. Evening and weekend work is common. Some drivers work very late at night or early in the morning.

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

Chauffeurs' work schedules are much more structured. The hours they work are based on the needs of their clients. Some chauffeurs are on call while they are not at work.

How to Become a Taxi Driver or Chauffeur

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Chauffeurs are trained on the job.

Most taxi drivers and chauffeurs go through brief training. Many states and local municipalities require them to get a taxi or limousine license. Although a high school diploma is not required, many taxi drivers and chauffeurs have one.

Education

Many drivers have a high school diploma or equivalent; but, generally, it is not required.

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 municipalities 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. Taxi drivers are trained in accordance with local regulations; in contrast, limousine chauffeurs usually are trained by their company, and customer service is emphasized. Paratransit drivers receive special training in how to handle wheelchair lifts and other mechanical devices.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All taxi drivers and chauffeurs must have a regular automobile driver’s license. States and local municipalities set other requirements; many require drivers to get a taxi or chauffeur's license, commonly referred to as a “hack” license. This normally requires passing a written test, with information such as local geography and regulations and a drug test.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that limousine drivers who transport at least 16 passengers at a time (including the driver) have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a passenger (P) endorsement. To get these, a driver has to pass knowledge and driving skills tests.

Advancement

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have limited advancement opportunities. However some may find managerial positions. For chauffeurs, advancement usually takes the form of driving more important clients and different types of cars. Some taxi drivers and chauffeurs can become a “lead driver,” which means they train new drivers in addition to continuing to drive their own clients.

Important 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

Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

Median annual wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Motor vehicle operators

$32,800

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

$22,820

 

The median annual wage for taxi drivers and chauffeurs was $22,820 in May 2012. The median wage is the point at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,050, and the top 10 percent earned more than $37,200. These wage data include money earned from tips. The better the service taxi drivers and chauffeurs provide their customers, the more likely they are to make a good tip on each fare. 

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs who lease their car from a company may pay a fee for the use of the car. This fee covers storage, insurance, and maintenance costs. Drivers who own their cars can contract with a company that allows the drivers to use their facilities for a fee. In addition, drivers usually pay their own fuel costs, so those who use hybrid taxis will have lower expenses.

Work hours for taxi drivers and chauffeurs vary. About a quarter worked part time in 2012 and about one in seven had variable schedules. Evening and weekend work is common. Some drivers work very late at night or early in the morning.

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

Chauffeurs' work schedules are much more structured. The hours they work are based on the needs of their clients. Some chauffeurs are on call while they are not at work.

Job Outlook

Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

16%

Total, all occupations

11%

Motor vehicle operators

9%

 

Employment of taxi drivers and chauffeurs is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Job growth is expected to be affected by an increase in demand for taxi drivers. Taxis generally complement public transit systems because people who regularly take a train or bus are more likely to use a taxi than would people who drive their own car. Therefore, as public transport systems grow, the demand for taxis should grow.

Paratransit is expected to grow rapidly. The growing number of elderly people who wish to remain independent might increase their use of these types of services to get around. Some growth will occur at nursing homes and assisted living facilities as these institutions try to increase mobility and quality of life for their residents. Growth may also occur due to federal legislation that requires transit agencies to offer paratransit services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Some employment growth for chauffeurs is expected due to an increasing amount of corporate travel. To be successful, most chauffeurs depend on clients who travel for business.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for taxi drivers and chauffeurs will likely be excellent. The occupation has low barriers to entry and high turnover. Applicants with a clean driving record and flexible schedules should have the best chance of being hired. Most taxi drivers and chauffeurs work in metropolitan areas, and those areas that are experiencing fast economic growth should offer the most job opportunities.

Employment projections data for Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

53-3041 233,000 269,100 16 36,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
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High school diploma or equivalent $27,530
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

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Postsecondary non-degree award $38,200
Train engineers and operators

Railroad Occupations

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High school diploma or equivalent $52,400
Water transportation occupations

Water Transportation Occupations

Workers in water transportation occupations operate and maintain vessels that take cargo and people over water. These vessels travel to and from foreign ports across the ocean, to domestic ports along the coasts, across the Great Lakes, and along the country’s many inland waterways.

See How to Become One $48,980
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/taxi-drivers-and-chauffeurs.htm (visited August 21, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014