Movie stars, singers, politicians, athletes and top businessmen and lawyers rely on personal drivers -- or private chauffeurs -- to pick them up and drive them to meetings, parties, other residences and airports, and to run their personal errands. If you can picture yourself driving high-profile clients around and following their sometimes demanding instructions 40 or more hours per week, a personal driver job may be the perfect gig for you. In return, you might earn an average salary of over $40,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
Personal drivers earned average annual salaries of $43,000 as of 2013, according to the job website Simply Hired. This salary is about 71 percent higher than what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for taxi drivers and chauffeurs as of May 2012 -- $25,140 per year. Most personal drivers work with multiple clients. To become a personal driver, you need to be dependable, possess a valid driver's license and have hand-eye coordination and interpersonal skills. Some employers may also require you to have certification in dignitary protection, which involves security and protective training. You can earn basic dignitary protection certification in two to four weeks, according to the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security.
Salary by Region
Average salaries for personal drivers varied considerably within the U.S. in 2013. In the Northeast region, they earned the lowest salaries of $39,000 in Maine and the highest of $52,000 in Massachusetts, according to Simply Hired. If you worked in the West region, you'd earn the lowest salary of $35,000 in Montana or the highest of $49,000 in Alaska or California. Expect to make $34,000 or $68,000 per year, respectively, in Mississippi or the District of Columbia, which were the lowest and highest salaries in the South. Your earnings in the Midwest would be a low of $34,000 in South Dakota or a high of $46,000 in Minnesota.
Experience might be the biggest factor in earning a higher salary as a personal driver. For example, you may work for a local celebrity for five or 10 years and then earn a substantial increase with a national celebrity because of your credentials. Higher-profile clients likely will pay more than the less well known because they have the financial capability. You'd probably find more of these higher-paying jobs as a personal driver in major cities where high-profile clients live: Los Angeles, New York and the District of Columbia.
The BLS doesn't report job trends for personal drivers. It does report job opportunities for taxi drivers and chauffeurs, which it projects will increase 20 percent in the next decade. This above-average rate should hold true for personal drivers as well, especially in areas experiencing high population growth. When looking for jobs in this field, consider large, busy cities such as New York, where personal drivers are in high demand because of limited parking.
2016 Salary Information for Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs earned a median annual salary of $24,300 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, taxi drivers and chauffeurs earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,490, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $30,440, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 305,100 people were employed in the U.S. as taxi drivers and chauffeurs.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
- Bright: Chauffeur / Executive Protection
- Simply Hired: Average Personal Driver Salaries
- The American Board for Certification in Homeland Security: Information Site
- Simply Hired: Average Personal Driver Salaries in ME and MA
- Simply Hired: Average Personal Driver Salaries in MT, AK and CA
- Simply Hired: Average Personal Driver Salaries in MS and DC
- Simply Hired: Average Personal Driver Salaries in SD and MN
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
- Career Trend: Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images