If you know how to drive, have a valid driver's license and a clean driving record -- and you're looking for a job -- you may want to research the possibility of becoming a professional driver. What kind of driver? There are many directions to steer toward: taxi, limo, bus, delivery van or truck driving are all viable options.
As you consider your options, think about what matches your likes, dislikes and personality. Do you prefer long drives or short ones? Highway or street driving? Would you prefer to offer transport to the public or travel solo? And would you rather be self-employed or work for a company?
Depending on how you've answered those questions, consider the following opportunities:
Taxi driver. Find out if there are city or state regulations that govern the taxi industry in your area. A good place to start is by going online and finding information about your government's department of motor vehicles. Or, call a local cab company and ask to speak to the manager. If you don't have a car of your own, you will most likely lease one from a cab company, along with insurance. According to the Master Cabbie Taxi Academy, a full-time working tax driver in New York City earns north of $1,000 a week. Just be prepared to put in long hours to earn that kind of pay -- and you will have to pay for leasing, insurance and gas.
Chauffeur. Similar to taxi drivers, chauffeurs bring passengers safely to their destination. But unlike taxi drivers, limo drivers are dispatched to a pickup point rather than hailed on the street. And their work hours are more structured because the client or employer dictates the work schedule. Chauffeurs operate limousines, vans, and private cars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and median annual wages were $21,550 in 2008. Chauffeurs may work for hire, or they may work for private businesses, government agencies, or wealthy individuals. You will most likely need to obtain a chauffeur license on top of your driver's license before you can start earning pay.
Bus driver. Everyone from schoolkids to tourists to commuters to the elderly take the bus to get where they're going. For bus drivers, that means you may be working for a school district, a public transit service or a national private company. Hours can vary from part-time to a six-day work week. The key to high performance is the ability to drive under all kinds of weather and road conditions while dealing courteously with a busload of passengers. Median hourly wages for wage-and-salary transit and intercity bus drivers were $16.32 in May 2008, according to the BLS.
Delivery van driver. Working for top-ranked companies such as UPS or FedEx means top wages. Delivery van drivers reportedly earn from $55,000 to $86,000, depending on factors such as time on the job, experience and region. Delivery companies have high expectations for service from their employees, and the work can be physically demanding -- but the benefits are great. Visit a UPS station near you to learn more about driver opportunities, or visit the UPS website, select your location, click on "Contact UPS," and call the toll-free number listed in "Employment Opportunities." For FedEx, visit a local office, or go to the bottom of the FedEx home page and click on "Careers."
Truck driver. Driving a big rig requires stamina, a clean driving record and a commercial driver's license to drive trucks heavier than 26,000 pounds. Median hourly wages of heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers were $17.92 in May 2008. You will have to pass both a written test and a driver's exam to get your license, and you also must pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations exam of the U.S. Department of Transportation. And don't forget the coffee for those late-night highway journeys!
Next: Confessions of a Truck Driver >>
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