Average Salary: $22,820
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $953,000
Driving a taxi isn't the most lucrative job out there. You're only going to make between $15,000 and $30,000 a year, depending on your shifts, tips, gas, and maintenance costs (source).
Those living in urban environments can pick up more passengers more frequently, but the high cost of living in the city will probably offset those earnings. On the bright side, getting stuck in traffic is going to help keep those fares climbing, because the meter keeps moving even while the car is standing still.
A number of officially licensed taxi drivers own their own car, which means they're self-employed. Even though they can set their own hours and avoid leasing fees, they're still responsible for obtaining a business permit and getting the right insurance (source).
On top of that, certain cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco require taxi drivers to purchase what's called a "medallion." This may sound exciting, but we're not talking a Zelda-esque Triforce of Power here—it isn't made of gold and it doesn't hang around your neck to alert all others of your glorious achievements in battle.
Basically, medallions allow taxi drivers to pick up passengers on the street. Otherwise, taxi drivers are limited to only picking up passengers who call their dispatch. Waiting around for those fares is kind of like detention for cabbies.
Taxi drivers are considered to be independent contractors, which means they must purchase their own health insurance and take taxes out of their own pay. Getting health insurance is a good idea, considering all that maniacal driving you'll be doing out there on busy streets.
Also, taxi companies typically only carry the minimum amount of insurance. If you get hurt, the insurance may only cover some of your medical bills, and one bad car crash can leave you paying out the wazoo for years to come. Not to mention, it's tough to drive a cab while in a full-body cast—or with things coming out of your wazoo.