How to make money as a driver

You can turn your driver’s licence into a full-time job, a part-time job or a convenient side hustle when you have some time. Depending on your free time and your willingness to get a little extra training, a world of opportunity opens up. The main options for vehicles are a car, van or truck, bus, or a specialist vehicle such as a forklift or crane.

Let’s start with the least obvious first: specialist vehicles. At certain times of the year, there is huge demand for certain specialist vehicles. For example, when there’s a kiwifruit and apple harvest in New Zealand, hundreds of forklift drivers are recruited by packhouses and orchards nationwide. Of course, you’ll need a forklift licence, but those are relatively easy to obtain. Even when it’s not the harvest, you can often find shiftwork or part-time work as a forklift driver. The key to retaining work as a forklift driver is to be reliable, punctual and a careful driver. You won’t need to provide your own forklift. Approaching companies directly is the easiest way to get work.

With a bus licence, there’s often shiftwork at less-desirable hours if you drive a municipal service, however you can aim for small buses (minibuses) right up to coaches. With coaches, you’re more likely to be driving longer routes or doing tourist work. With small buses, there’s a wide variety of work including private and corporate work. You can find work with companies that have their own vehicles. If you are entrepreneurial and have a good quality minivan, you can set up a small business doing local tours and just take bookings when you want to. You’ll need to be the gregarious tour guide and have a good knowledge of where you’re taking them.

If you have a large truck licence (e.g. a semitruck or a large rigid truck) relocations and fill-in work can be an option. This work is best obtained through an agency where you can give them your availability and they’ll match jobs for you. Sometimes, motorhome rental companies will pay for relocations when the motorhomes are too large to fit on car transporters. You’ll use other people’s trucks for this sort of work as a large truck is a big investment.

Unless drones have replaced us by the time you read this, there are a multitude of options if you have a van or a small box truck. These include general couriers as well as specific deliveries from firms that provide one type of service, for example, meal kits, alcohol, etc. You’ll almost always have to have your own vehicle for this.

If you have a minivan which you can remove the rear seats from, this gives you an option for delivering larger objects (or carrying more between trips to the depot). Sites like TaskRabbit will have jobs where people need help moving items.

There are companies that pay you to drive around with advertising on them. You usually have to have a striking car, not just a silver econobox, plus commit to a certain number of kilometers a month or have it parked in a place where it’s visible to a lot of people.

You could become a driving instructor, but this does take a lot of training and you’ll need to modify your car to have dual controls.

Finally, the most obvious choice is becoming part of a rideshare platform. You’ll have heard of Uber or Lyft, but there are a great many others out there depending on where you live. These give you the flexibility to work the hours you want depending on your schedule, but bear in mind that peak earnings are not necessarily at sociable hours. 

Of course, you’ll need your own car and it must fall within the parameters that the ride share company stipulates. You’ll also need to pass background checks. You’ll be responsible for all the maintenance on your vehicle, fuel and insurance. 

After you’ve paid all your expenses, you’re not likely to have earned much money. Plus, if you have a day job, you’ll need to make sure you’re not driving tired (bear in mind that in many countries, you’re restricted to the number of hours you can work in a day – this is called working time).

Another option for transporting humans home is a dial-a-driver type service where you drive the person’s car home with them in. 

Rather than delivering people (who can sometimes be obnoxious), you can deliver food or other goods. There are ride sharing apps that also do food delivery, but some chains of restaurants also have their own delivery drivers. This is almost all evening work.

When taking on additional work using your own vehicle be mindful that you are running a business. You’ll need to keep track of your expenses and income, and file taxes. There will be accelerated wear and tear on your vehicle. In some cases you might be exposed to danger, or you may need to provide your own personal protective equipment. The figures that many companies will give you won’t include that wear and tear or the compliance cost of running a business, so do your own figures and take some legal and financial advice before committing.

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