Everyone has heard their family say the phrase, "I'm not your taxi driver" at some point, but what does a taxi driver's job actually involve?
Taxi drivers provide an essential service bringing holidaymakers to airports, children to school, shoppers back home and helping those with mobility problems get from A to B.
So, what will I actually be doing?
Your job involves:
- Picking up and delivering customers
- Taking the fastest and safest route
- Helping to load and unload the vehicle
- Calculating the right fare and returning the correct change
- Keeping your vehicle clean and in good working order (no one wants to get into a broken, untidy taxi)
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The nitty gritty
There are two different kinds of taxi you need to know about: the licensed Hackney cab and licensed private hire cab. Hackney cabs (black cabs) can be hailed from the street whereas licensed private hire cabs (mini cabs) are pre-booked by customers and aren’t allowed to pick up customers at random. Taxi drivers are normally self-employed and either own their own vehicle or hire it from the operating firm.
Taxi companies operate on a 24-hour basis and most drivers work in shifts. Friday and Saturday evenings are usually the busiest time for taxi drivers and to earn good money you’ll need to be out driving in the early hours (warning: expect more tipsy chatty customers during these shifts).
After learning the ropes why not become your own boss and set up your own taxi firm?
Money, money, money
The salary for taxi driver jobs ranges between £12k to £30k per annum. To earn good money you need to put in the hours: the more fares you pick up, the more you earn.
See what people are earning in this job
The good points...
"I work for myself, which means I can work as little or as much as I want. And the money's good if I put in the hours", says London black cab driver Paul Goodspeed.
...and the bad
"Obviously the traffic can be stressful and, believe it or not, driving a cab can be quite a lonely job. You talk about the same stuff all the time; the traffic or the weather, or just not at all."
Is there study involved?
There are three kinds of driver’s license:
- Hackney carriage
- Private hire
- Combined - which allows you to drive both classes of vehicles.
While there are no minimum qualifications to become a taxi driver, to successfully obtain a license you need to be at least 21 years of age and hold a clean driving license. You'll need to pass a medical test – conditions such as epilepsy, poor eyesight, insulin-treated diabetes and serious heart problems could result in an application being refused.
Some authorities require drivers to pass the Driving Standard Agency’s (DSA) vocational driving test. Some areas test drivers on routes – most famously, the London Knowledge, which is a notoriously difficult test of a cabbie’s familiarity with London, which takes on average three years and 12 attempts to pass.
Some authorities offer training to help prospective taxi drivers. Courses which will help you obtain your license as well as become a better taxi driver are:
- The BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Transporting Passengers
- NVQ Level 2 in Road Passenger Transport
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
Conscientious, careful drivers wanted, so if you suffer from road rage or can't stop speeding, it's time to calm down and break the bad habits. Other skills that will help you in the profession are:
- Good standard of spoken English
- Great memory
- Great customer service skills
- The ability to keep your composure when dealing with unruly passengers