Now is a time when many people are out of work due to the pandemic. Others are working, but they face underemployment. Lots of individuals are looking at ways of supporting themselves that they had never considered before.
At the top of that list is being an Uber driver. Ride share options like Lyft and Uber are quite popular these days. They typically cost more than public transportation, but you have the luxury of a private conveyance rather than sharing a bus or train car with dozens of commuters.
Let’s look at a few of the positives and also the drawbacks of signing up with Uber.
You Are an Independent Contractor
In America, contractors make up more than one-third of the workforce. Uber drivers are independent contractors. But what exactly does that mean?
An independent contractor:
- Can be a corporation, person, or business
- Provides services or goods under a verbal agreement or written contract
- Works as required, rather than as a regular employee
One way you can look at it is that you have more freedom as an independent contractor. You only work as much as you want to. You make your own hours.
There are some negative aspects to having this status, though. If you’re an independent contractor, then your employer is not obliged to give you healthcare, a 401K plan, stock options, vacation time, etc.
That matters a great deal, particularly when it comes to health insurance. If you’re not getting your coverage through Uber, you either need to have another job that offers it or else you need to buy it through the marketplace. That’s expensive, even for one of the high-deductible plans.
The Freedom Might Be Worth It to You
Even with a lack of healthcare, a 401K, and other perks that come with some jobs, you still might want to sign up with Uber. That’s because:
- You are your own boss
- You can work at nights if you’re a night owl
- If you feel like taking a day off, you can do that whenever you like
There’s something romantic about a business entity paying you to enjoy the open road. True, you’re responding to a rider’s beck and call, but you’re in your own vehicle, making money on what feels like your own time.
You could argue that Uber driving is less a job and more of a hobby for which a company is paying you.
Some Chafe at the Pay Structure
One drawback, though, is that you’re not going to get rich driving for Uber. It’s true that it’s a job that nearly everyone can do, as long as you’re a licensed driver and you have your own vehicle. There are a few other qualifications, like not being a convicted felon.
The reality is, though, that unless you’re driving more or less constantly, you won’t make a whole lot more than if you had a retail job. You’re probably making slightly more than if you were working in the food service industry.
While you’re driving, though, you need to pay Uber for using their app. They take their cut, and you still have to pay income tax on top of that. Some individuals don’t like that setup.
You Have to Like People
One other aspect that we should mention as it relates to Uber driving is that if you’re not a people person, you probably should think about doing something else. You’re going to be in an enclosed space with someone, sometimes for half an hour or more.
There is nothing that says that you have to talk to them. You could just put the radio on and listen to music, or drive silently.
If you never say anything, though, people might think that you’re surly. You’ll get negative reviews, and people won’t want to ride with you anymore. Howsoever you plan your ride, the most important thing is to be courteous to your clients and above all ensure safety for them and yourself. SAFETY FIRST!
It’s Not for Everyone
Uber drivers are a particular breed, much the same as taxi drivers. You have to like both driving and people, or you at least have to tolerate them. You need a working vehicle and to meet the various other qualifications.
Probably more than anything else, people get into this profession because of the scheduling freedom and the fact that they don’t have to go into an office every morning. Those perks might be enough for you to sign up right there.
Few people become Uber drivers and do it as their primary income target. If you want a side hustle, though, it’s at least worth considering.