Chauffeurs are professional drivers. Learn what it takes to be one.
Chauffeurs are professional drivers who pick up passengers at their homes, workplaces or at entertainment and other recreational venues and drive them to various destinations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some chauffeurs offer sightseeing trips to out-of-town visitors or drive people in wedding parties. Others work regularly for the same wealthy clients or are hired by businesses or government agencies. Chauffeurs drive limousines, private cars and vans. The New York Department of Labor explains that chauffeurs are generally professional drivers who drive vehicles that are less than bus or truck weight. Chauffeurs differ from taxi drivers because the chauffeur's trips are arranged in advance.
Chauffeurs may work any hour of the day or night. They may be full- or part-time employees or even on-call. Some chauffeurs are employed only during certain seasons or on weekends. The National Limousine Association says many limousine chauffeurs start their days with a list of pre-planned activities, so time-management is important. Ten-hour business days are not uncommon for full-time chauffeurs.
However, the job often attracts people looking to earn extra money by being employed as a chauffeur as a side job with flexible hours. Some people like the independence, too -- 30 percent of chauffeurs are self-employed.
Chauffeurs often inspect, clean and wash their vehicles. They make sure they are operable and fluid levels are intact. Some even do minor vehicle maintenance.
Although the requirements to work as a chauffeur may vary by state and company, most chauffeurs need to meet the following criteria:
State governments license and regulate chauffeurs. Depending on the state, chauffeurs may need to meet minimum hours of driving experience and other training standards. Some companies may also set their own standards. Common company requirements for chauffeurs include a clean criminal record, good credit history and a high school diploma.
Some states may only require what is called a "passenger endorsement," meaning the chauffeur is certified to carry passengers. Some states only require a chauffeur to be certified to drive by an employer. States may have different licensing tiers. For example, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers two types of chauffeur licenses -- one for transporting property and the other for transporting paying customers. Individuals interested in becoming a chauffeur should check the regulations of their state and municipality. Licenses may expire after a set time.
All chauffeurs need a valid driver's license. Federal law requires commercial driver's licenses for those carrying 16 or more passengers.
Cities and other communities may set additional standards. Some require proficiency in the English language. Some communities require applicants to undergo classroom training in serving disabled passengers, reading maps and obeying motor vehicle laws, among other skills.
Chauffeurs' salaries vary depending on gas prices, the location and the hours worked, among other factors. Some drivers also pay a fee to lease their vehicles from a company. According to PayScale, a Web site that tracks occupational pay, as of 2009 chauffeurs earn an average of $11.28 to $15.40 an hour, not counting tips. Limousine chauffeurs, for example, often expect to receive tips of as much as 15 to 20 percent of the charge.
Chauffeurs generally don't need a formal education, although some companies require high school diplomas and some communities may require that they attend certain classes. Companies that employ chauffeurs often mandate job training that typically lasts about a week.
The federal government predicts that the profession will continue to see growth in part because the profession has a high turnover. Job opportunities are not hard to come by although recent economic troubles may affect the market. The best place to look for a chauffeur job is in a fast-growing urban area.