If you like the idea of a career behind the wheel, becoming a taxi driver is a smart ­– if sometimes challenging – option.


Perhaps the most obvious benefit of becoming a taxi driver is you choose your own working hours. Flexible working hours are very much a trend in the modern workplace, but taxi drivers have always enjoyed some degree of flexibility, with the ability to work the hours they wish (within reason).


The job also offers you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. You never know who is going to take a seat in the back of your cab and spark up a conversation, which brings some much-welcome variety to the job.


On the flipside, like just about every service-based job, you could end up with a passenger who doesn’t treat you with the necessary respect and politeness. This type of encounter is more likely when you’re working late, unsocialable hours and picking up clients who might have been drinking.


However, the benefits certainly outweigh any potential drawbacks. Plus, there are things like taxi insurance that can provide a layer of protection when out on the road, so you know that you’re not going to be liable for any damage that wasn’t your fault.


How to become a taxi driver


There are a couple of different routes you can take to become a taxi driver, according to the Government’s National Careers Service.


You could do a college course, which could give you an advantage when looking for work (against drivers who don’t have the qualifications. Courses include:


  • Level 2 Certificate in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving - Taxi and Private Hire
  • Level 2 Certificate in Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver


However, there are usually entry requirements that you must meet to be able to enrol on the course.


You'll usually need two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course. But, even if you don’t have those qualifications, it’s worthwhile applying for a course in case they are able to make allowances.


Alternatively, you can apply directly to a taxi company, providing you've got a taxi driver's licence. This is the most common route into the industry. But you'll need to meet registration and licensing requirements before you can start work. Most taxi companies will also expect you to use your own registered vehicle.


You'll need a taxi driver's licence from the licensing unit of your local council or Transport for London (TfL).


Do taxi drivers need a GCSE in English?


While it may not be a strict requirement, having a GCSE in English could certainly be beneficial for taxi drivers.


Communication is an integral part of their job, as they interact with passengers, dispatchers, and sometimes even traffic police. The ability to understand and respond effectively in English can enhance these interactions, especially in regions where English is predominantly spoken.


Moreover, reading skills could be helpful for navigating GPS systems or written directions. However, it is also important to consider that many successful taxi drivers have been operating without a GCSE in English.


Practical experience, driving skills and knowledge of the local area are also crucial components of their role.


 Drivers hands on the steering wheel with sun coming through the windscreen

What it takes to become a taxi driver


In addition to having held a UK or EU full driving licence for at least 12 months (three years in London), you’ll also need to pass a series of checks and assessments, which depend on where in the UK you intend to operate as a taxi driver.


You’ll need to complete a driving skills assessment, pass background checks, take a medical, sit a geography test (‘The Knowledge’ test in London) and, if you want to work in the capital, meet the English Language requirement.


The licensing requirements for taxi drivers differ from one local authority to another. Contact your local council to find out what you’ll need to do to become a taxi driver – remember to ask for the price of the taxi license fee and knowledge assessment. Or check out our recent blog for on what The Knowledge is to learn more about it.


If you want to become a private hire driver, you'll need some taxi insurance. You may also want to take out public liability insurance.


The National Careers Service also highlights the skills and qualities you’ll need to become a successful and happy taxi driver, which include:


  • Good customer service skills
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Active listening skills
  • The ability to work well with others
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • The ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • Knowledge of public safety and security
  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • To be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device


How long does it take to become a taxi driver in the UK?


The timeframe for becoming a taxi driver in the UK can vary significantly and is influenced by several factors. On average, the process of obtaining a taxi driver's license can take anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks.


The first step in this process is to apply for a hackney carriage or private hire drivers licence from your local council or Transport for London (TfL), if you're planning to operate in the capital. The application process includes a DBS check, a medical examination, and a topographical skills assessment.


Some councils also require applicants to take a local knowledge test known as 'The Knowledge.' The time it takes to complete these assessments and receive results can significantly influence the overall timeframe. Then there is the waiting period for the council or TfL to process your application and issue your license.


Man with newspaper hailing taxi driver and talking to him through his window

Career path and progression


Once you have your taxi driver's licence, you can start to think about applying for jobs, or becoming a self-employed taxi driver. The latter option is perhaps more suited to an experienced driver who has a few years in the game.


If you're employed by a taxi firm, you could work towards becoming a supervisor or manager in the dispatch control room.


As a self-employed driver, you could become a taxi operator and increase your earnings by running a private hire firm, employing other drivers.


Before all that, though, you need to decide what type of taxi you want to drive: a Hackney carriage or private hire vehicle.


Hackney Carriages

Can be hailed from the street of can wait in a taxi rank for passengers, which means you can find fares fairly easily and you can pick and choose what hours you work

Private Hire Vehicles (PHV)

These must be booked by customers in advance. Therefore, you only drive when you have a fare, which might mean less flexibility as you can’t afford to choose which hours you work.


Interested in the idea of progressing as a taxi driver? Read our top 10 reasons on why you should become a taxi driver. 


How many hours do taxi drivers work?


The working hours for taxi drivers in the UK can vary greatly, often influenced by factors such as location, the taxi company's policies, and the drivers' personal preferences.


According to the National Careers Service in the UK, taxi drivers often work up to 40 to 60 hours a week, including evenings and weekends. However, self-employed taxi drivers have the flexibility to choose their own hours, which could be more or less than this average.


The Transport for London (TFL), which regulates taxi services in the capital, stipulates that a licensed taxi driver should not work more than 10 hours in any 24 hour period for safety reasons. This limitation is established to safeguard both the driver and passenger's wellbeing, preventing accidents due to fatigue.


It's important to note that these are general guidelines and actual working hours can vary. It's a demanding job requiring long hours on the road, patience, and excellent customer service skills.


Get taxi insurance to maximise your income and minimise risk


To drive a taxi, you’ll need to take out specialist taxi insurance to meet your legal obligations as a road user as standard car insurance won’t be suitable.


Here at Taxi Insurer, we can help you find a taxi insurance policy that suits your needs and we can work out a payment plan to make your payments manageable alongside all the other business expenses.


Benefits of arranging taxi insurance through Taxi Insurer can include:


  • Unique rates for public and private hire vehicles
  • Interest-free payment plans
  • Low deposits
  • Public Liability cover
  • Employer’s Liability cover


With Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Third party only cover available, get a quick quote for taxi insurance today. Call our friendly team with your registration number and driving licence and we can help you find the level of cover that’s right for you.