Education and Training: License
Salary: Median—$9.41 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Chauffeurs drive and maintain cars, limousines, or vans for private households, government agencies, business firms, and limousine companies. Chauffeurs who work for private households may drive family members to and from their daily activities, which may include school, work, and various business and social functions. They help their passengers get in and out of the car, carry packages and luggage, and run errands. Because they are responsible for keeping their employers' cars in good condition, chauffeurs spend some of their working hours washing, waxing, and polishing the cars. They make arrangements to have the cars serviced and repaired. They often make minor repairs and adjustments themselves. Many chauffeurs who work for private households also have other duties, such as cleaning walks and driveways and exercising pets.
Chauffeurs who work for business firms and government agencies drive office staff and visitors, transport people to and from the airport, and may be required to run errands and serve as messengers. Industrial firms, airports, private schools, hotels, health resorts, funeral homes, motion picture and television studios, and other businesses also employ chauffeurs, often shuttling customers in larger vehicles or vans. Chauffeurs who work for car rental and delivery companies may pick up and deliver rented cars and drive cars from one city to another, or they may shuttle customers to and from the rental agency.
Some chauffeurs are self-employed. They offer their services to those who need drivers only part time or for special occasions. Many limousine chauffeurs own or lease their vehicles, and limousine companies inform them of their driving assignments by radiotelephone.
Education and Training Requirements
Many employers hire only high school graduates as chauffeurs. In most cases, chauffeurs must be at least twenty-one years old. Because of insurance regulations, some employers do not hire drivers under the age of twenty-five or drivers who have been held liable for an accident in the last five years. Every driver must have a standard driver's license. Additional licensing requirements for chauffeurs vary from state to state. Typically, a special driving test is necessary in order to obtain a chauffeur's license. Other training programs may be required in certain localities. Government agencies require applicants to pass a civil service test, and some employers insist that a defensive driving course be taken. Most employers demand a good driving record.
Getting the Job
For work in private households, registering with an employment agency that specializes in placing household service workers is recommended. To chauffeur for a business or government agency, apply directly to the agency or firm. State or local civil service offices can provide information about getting a civil service job. Newspaper classifieds and job banks on the Internet are other sources of available chauffeur jobs.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Chauffeurs advance by moving to jobs with employers who provide higher wages and better working conditions. Some chauffeurs start their own limousine services. The number of job openings for chauffeurs is expected to increase as fast as the average through the year 2014. Those with good driving records and the ability to work flexible schedules will have the best opportunities.
Working conditions for chauffeurs are usually pleasant. They are subject to little direct supervision and have considerable opportunity to travel and meet people. Self-employed chauffeurs may set their own hours. Private household chauffeurs may have their own living quarters provided to them.
The disadvantages of this work may include irregular hours and weekend and holiday work. Many chauffeurs are always on call and are required to meet specific pick-up and drop-off times. Also, chauffeurs frequently drive in heavy traffic, and they are usually expected to help lift their customers' items, including heavy luggage or packages, into their vehicles.
Where to Go for More Information
National Limousine Association
49 S. Maple Ave.
Marlton, NJ 08053
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings of chauffeurs vary in a wide range. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for salaried chauffeurs, including tips, was $9.41 per hour in 2004. Those who work full time can make between $25,000 and $54,000 per year. While some limousine companies pay chauffeurs an hourly rate, other companies pay commissions that are 20 to 25 percent of the fare, with the chauffeurs receiving an additional 15 to 20 percent in tips. Chauffeurs employed by government agencies and business firms usually receive benefits that include uniforms, paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans. Benefits for chauffeurs in private households vary widely. Many employers provide free room and board. Self-employed chauffeurs must provide their own benefits.