How to Become a Taxi Driver or Chauffeur
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.
Many drivers have a high school diploma or equivalent; but, generally, it is not required.
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.
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.
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.