How to Get a Job as a Taxi Driver and Chauffeur
Barriers to entry are low in this occupation. Generally, you don’t even need a high school diploma, although many drivers have one. Good driving skills and a clean driving record are at the top of employers’ lists, and you may be asked to submit to a criminal background check and drug test. Since drivers are the face of the company they work for, demonstrating your professionalism and customer service skills will go a long way with potential employers. “The quality we look for that you can’t teach, that needs to be in your DNA – that’s being a nice person,” says Robert Alexander, president and CEO of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, which is based near Washington, D.C., and operates a fleet of more than 110 cars, vans, limousines and minibuses. “We’re in the service business, so we need people who want to make other people happy. You can teach someone to say, ‘Yes ma’am, no ma’am,’ and find their way around the city, but we need someone who really wants to please other people.” Employers also want to know that you have map reading skills and a solid sense of direction, as drivers are expected to know their way around and navigate the most efficient routes to frequented destinations such as airports and convention centers.
What is the Job Like?
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have limited advancement opportunities, according to the Labor Department, but it depends on the company you work for. You may even work for yourself: About a quarter of all taxi drivers and chauffeurs were self-employed in 2012. Alexander says many of the people who help run his company started out as chauffeurs. “You could become a dispatcher, reservationist, supervise other people [or] be in charge of the VIP desk,” he says, adding that drivers who move into such roles are typically ones who take initiative, excel in customer service and have a creative way of solving challenges.
Spending your day immersed in traffic can send your stress level surging, and you may have to lift luggage and other heavy items for passengers. On the plus side, work schedules for taxi drivers tend to be somewhat flexible, although chauffeurs are more likely to have structured days and work hours may be based on the needs of their clients. About a quarter of taxi drivers and chauffeurs worked part time in 2012, and 1 in 7 had variable schedules. Drivers may work late at night or early in the morning, and weekend and evening work is often a given. “We’re 24 hours a day and never close, so our chauffeurs need to be at the ready all the time,” Alexander says. Although drivers spend most of their day behind the wheel, boredom isn’t a hallmark of the job. “You never know who’s going to be in the back of the car, but that’s what keeps it interesting to the people who choose to be in this business,” Alexander says. “They have the freedom to do different things and see different things all day.”
Last updated by Katy Marquardt.