Uber and Lyft: The Ultimate Flexible Part-Time Job

Andrew Jenkins -

Person holding phone with ridesharing app open

I probably don't represent the national average or anything, but I haven't ridden in a cab for at least two years. Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have made getting around my hometown more convenient and more affordable. But here's the thing, Uber and Lyft aren’t just a convenient way to get around and save money; they’re a convenient way to make money.

Have you considered driving for one (or both) of these guys part-time? The idea of no email, autonomous work, setting my own hours, and meeting all kinds of people intrigues me, and I know I'm not alone. Search trends on Google suggest interest across the US continues to rise:

Google monthly search trend

Naturally, the Uber and Lyft craze made me wonder what it was really like to drive for them, and what I would need to get started. Here’s what I found.

What it Takes to be an Uber or Lyft Driver

First of all, to drive for either of these companies, you must have a certain type of vehicle. Let’s look at Uber first. To become an Uber driver, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Possess a driver’s license with a clean record
  • Have car insurance
  • Own a smartphone with a data plan
  • Own a vehicle that meets Uber’s requirements

Uber passengers can choose from four different levels of service, each of which requires you to have a certain type of vehicle. Generally, the vehicle must be less than 10 years old – although in some states, your vehicle has to be even newer. Here’s what you need for each service type:

UberX

This is the most common of Uber’s service levels. Drivers in this class need to have a four-door non-luxury sedan.

UberXL

This service is meant for groups, so you will need an SUV that can comfortably seat six people.

UberBlack and UberSUV

You could say these are the more luxurious versions of UberX and UberXL. To keep their better status (coming with higher fares, of course), drivers must maintain a driver rating of at least 4.6 and drive a vehicle with a black interior and exterior.

Lyft

Lyft carries the same requirements as Uber, but your driving license and registration must be from the state in which you are planning to offer your driving services. As for your vehicle, Lyft requires you to use a four-door car with at least 5 seatbelts, and it must be newer than a 2003 model in most areas. In some of the more competitive markets, your vehicle has to be less than 10 years old.

Getting Started as a Driver

If you meet the requirements and decide you want to give it a try, first confirm that Uber or Lyft services are available in your area. At this point in time, Uber has greater market share in the US so will likley be more common. Many drivers choose to sign up for both services so that they can earn more money.

One of the major draws of Uber and Lyft is that if you meet the requirements, it’s fairly easy to start working. To sign up for either service, go to the website of the company you want to drive for. There, you will fill out a form and send copies of your driver's license, vehicle registration, insurance, and pictures of your vehicle. In addition, you must pass a motor vehicle record screening and federal background check. If you’re signing up for Lyft, you also get a ride with a mentor to get you oriented.

Show Me the Money

Drivers for Uber in the city of Seattle appear to make between $19 and $21 an hour before expenses. Where you live, the type of car you drive, and the hours you work, of course, have a significant influence on this. Lyft's driver pay calculator tells me I could make up to $320 per week if I drive 10 hours per week here in Seattle. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the cost of gas, insurance, vehicle maintenance and the taxes associated with being an independent contractor.

Can you make this a full-time career? Most drivers keep their day jobs, perhaps because ridesharing is most profitable and viable during peak hours. Driving for a rideshare company makes for a very convenient part-time job because there are no set hours – you just turn on your Uber or Lyft app when you want to work and turn it off when you’re done. It can’t get more flexible than that!

The Future of Uber and Lyft

With these new and innovative companies, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for their drivers and passengers. Will Uber continue to lead the market, or will Lyft find a way to get ahead? Will there be a more competitive process to join as more and more people become drivers? How will regulation impact rates? In a rapidly growing industry segment, it’s impossible to know just what the future holds for rideshare companies, but I certainly think they will continue to innovate and grow.

For now, driving for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft seems like a great part-time job and way to make extra money. Maybe next time you need a ride, it will be me picking you up! Or, maybe you’ll decide to give it a try, and I’ll see you behind the wheel!