7 Steps On How To Become A Taxi Driver

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A taxi driver is a profession that usually gets overlooked. It may not require any formal education but it still takes a lot of skill and expertise to become one. Being a taxi driver is an honest and decent profession that actually comes with good pay. It lets you be your own boss and you can work on flexible hours. So, if driving is your passion and you would like to get paid for it, you might want to look into this job.

Each country has its own specified ways of becoming a taxi driver. Some will require you to take a series of tests, while others just need some simple paperwork. But here are a few steps that you should consider if you’re applying for the job.

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1. Get a license

Obviously, you won’t be able to obtain a driving profession without a driver’s license. Ask your local officials or departments on the necessary steps that you should take in order to get certified. For instance, to get an Illinois Driver’s license, you must:

2. Train to be a taxi driver

As mentioned before, working as a taxi driver doesn’t require a high school diploma or any college degree, but many cities require brief training. The duration of the training varies from cities to cities – it may last for a few hours, or maybe even a few weeks. Usually, taxi companies train their new applicants for free or you can seek guidance at a specialized driving school. Training usually covers local traffic laws, streets and routes, driving safety, taximeter operation, and communicating with your dispatcher. Here are a few cities and their required trainings:

  • New York – Taxi drivers must take a 6-hour defensive driving course and complete either a 24 or 80-hour taxi school course.
  • Chicago – Taxi drivers must attend a 3-week course at the Public Chauffeur Training Institute.
  • San Francisco – Taxi drivers must attend an accredited taxi school and obtain a Taxi Training Certificate and Sensitivity Training Certificate.
  • Paris – Taxi drivers must have obtained a level 1 first aid certificate or Diplôme PSC1.

3. Obtain a taxi medallion

Probably the most costly requirement is purchasing a taxi medallion. However, this is not required for all cities and are only available at New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Hence, if you want to operate your cab in those areas, make sure to buy one.

But what is a taxi medallion?

The taxi medallion (Kholood Eid/The New York Times)

Taxi medallions, also known as CPNC (Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience), transferrable permits on taxicab vehicles to authorize them to operate as a taxi. These stickers must be purchased from the city or from another medallion owner. There is only a limited supply of taxi medallions to prevent a surplus of cabs, which means that medallions trade at a high price of around $241,000.

4. Pass any required tests

If most cities don’t require any training for you to become a taxi driver, they most likely have required tests. Perhaps the most infamous and controversial taxi test is of London’s “The Knowledge” exam which usually takes 2-4 years to study. But there are less daunting tests such as the DC Taxi Driver Test from Washington. The city will provide study guides if there are no training courses to help aspiring drivers to prepare for the exam. Here are a few things you should take note if you’re taking any taxi driver test soon:

  • Routes
  • Streets
  • Landmarks
  • Alleyways
  • Hot tourist spots
  • Customer service
  • Business practices

5. Undergo background check

Taxi passengers are always putting their lives on the hands of the drivers. Therefore, only responsible and of clean records are allowed to operate a taxi. Get a thorough background check from your taxi company or city officials and make sure you have no criminal records and involvement of any road accidents. You should also get a drug test and medical examinations to ensure that you are mentally and physically able to drive a taxi.

6. Process other necessary paperwork

After your tests, training, and background check, do a quick research on other necessary requirements that you need to possess. Make sure you complete your documents before passing a formal application to the respective government offices.

Typical requirements include:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • A social security card
  • Immigrant documentation (if applicable)
  • Driving record
  • A criminal background check (for which you may need to supply fingerprints)
  • A medical examination
  • Drug test

7. Decide if you want to be an independent driver

As mentioned before, you get to be your own boss. Not all taxi drivers work for a certain company. Others decide to be independent so they can take 100% of what they earn during the day. However, independent drivers also spend for their car repairs straight from their wallets. On the other hand, cabbies working for taxi businesses receive a percentage of the fares that come in but have the car insurance covered by the company. It’s your choice of preference.

Becoming a taxi driver isn’t as easy at it sounds like. It takes a lot of patience, skill, and process to get certified. For that reason, they should be treated with respect and not be looked down upon. It is an honest profession that definitely deserves more recognition!

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