What does it take to become a taxi driver? Learn about the requirements for this position, employment alternatives, and special considerations.
How to Become a Taxi Driver
Qualifying to work as a taxi driver vary from one state to the next, as well as from one country to another. Those looking for work in the United Kingdom may find that it takes considerable time to earn a license to drive a taxi, while doing so in the U.S. is less time consuming. Examine the requirements for a taxi driver in both the United States and in the United Kingdom.
Training for Taxi Drivers in the US
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, taxi drivers can find work with a little formal education. The basic requirements for working as a taxi driver in the United States include:
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Driver's license
- Basic math skills
- Ability to read a map
- Good communication skills
A driver with a general knowledge of auto mechanics can be useful to a cab company. Those interested in working for a taxicab company can expect to complete some on the job training after being hired, or as part of the hiring process. Training for taxi drivers may include:
- Driver safety workshops
- Taximeter operation
- Completing paperwork
- Working with customers
- Ideal routes to popular destinations
Some jurisdictions require training by law before the driver can work. These training sessions typically last about two weeks. Along with basic training, some cab companies have special training for transporting people with special needs and the elderly. This is important for companies that have contracts with social service agencies.
Licensure in the US
Getting a license to drive a taxi is easier than earning a license to become a truck driver. First, a taxicab driver needs to have a typical driver's license to operate a car. Licensure requirements vary by state, and some require the driver to earn a taxi driver or chauffeur's license (a hack license). Besides the state requirements for licensure, the driver may have to meet additional criteria for their local areas.
Urban areas and cities typically have taxi commissions that decide what requirements drives need to meet. Regulations may also include vehicle licenses and the rate that the cabbie can charge customers. Drivers may have to complete as many as 80 hours of classroom instruction, pass a test, and pass an English proficiency test. This all depends on the requirements specific to the driver's locality.
Preparing to Drive a Taxi in the UK
The Hart District Council's How to Become a Taxi Driver is an excellent resource for a person who wants to become a taxi driver in the United Kingdom. The organization's website lists different types of licenses a driver can earn as well as the requirements for the jobs. Requirements to enter this profession in the United Kingdom appear to be more rigorous than they are in the United States.
The licenses listed on the Hart District Council's website include hackney carriage (similar to a taxi driver) and private hire licenses (similar to a chauffeur). A driver may earn licensure in either area, or earn a combined license, which allows the driver to operate both types of vehicles.
Drivers must be at least 21 years old. Those interested in earning a hackney license in the UK have to complete a number of steps:
Pass the Driving Standards Agency Driving Test, which a more demanding examination than the learner driver test is. After passing the test, the driver receives a certificate, which is necessary to move on to the application process.
- Have an approved physician complete a medical report
- Have a disclosure document from the Criminal Records Bureau completed
- Pass a Taxi Knowledge Test
- Have held a driver's license for at least three years
The interview process is thorough, and drivers can expect to be held to high standards.
Special Considerations for Taxi Drivers
Whether driving in the United States or in the United Kingdom, taxi drivers should possess certain qualities. Among the most important is the ability to work with the public. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that taxi drivers should be:
- Able to work with little supervision
Keep in mind that being a taxi driver is among the most dangerous jobs a person can have, and many companies and independent drivers have adopted using both GPS systems and emergency alarm buttons in their vehicles. Some drivers might prefer to look into becoming a chauffeur if working with the general public is too difficult.
Advancement is limited for taxi drivers, but some move on to open their own businesses, either driving taxis or limousines. Independent drivers have to meet additional requirements, which vary from one area to the next. Advancement can include becoming a lead driver who trains new employees, management positions and dispatching jobs.