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You just turned 18, and you’re excited that you can now enter the world of adult employment. There are no longer restrictions on the number of hours you can work or the types of jobs you can do. Also, being 18 means you can finally create your own Uber and Lyft accounts. After taking your first rideshare trip, you think, “I have a car and am a safe driver. I could totally do this job.” But how old do you have to be to work for Uber and Lyft?
Alas, when you begin the application process to become a Lyft driver, or apply with Uber, you learn that there’s a pesky minimum age requirement of 21 years old. This seems unfair. Why do these companies have this policy? Is there any way around it? If not, what other driving jobs can you pursue that allow you to have a flexible schedule, earn tips, and be your own boss?
In this guide, we’ll answer all of the above questions, so that you can spend less time wondering which jobs you can do and more time earning money.
- Why Do Uber and Lyft Require Drivers to Be 21?
- Uber and Lyft Driver Requirements Overview
- 5 Flexible Driving Jobs for People Under 21
Why Do Uber and Lyft Require Drivers to Be 21?
The minimum age requirement of 21 seems stupid and arbitrary. After all, at age 18 you’re old enough to vote, serve in the military, and do just about anything else you like for a living. Why is being a rideshare driver so different?
There are a few reasons that Uber and Lyft have this policy. The first is one of driving experience. If you’re just 18, then you have a maximum of two years of experience as a fully licensed driver. We know you may not feel like a new driver, but in the grand scheme of things, two years is not a lot of experience. With less experience comes a greater risk of having an accident and lower passenger confidence in the service. Uber and Lyft want to make sure that passengers have no reason to doubt the driver’s ability.
Second, there’s the issue of driver maturity. We know that you may be more mature than the average 18-year-old (after all, you’re researching driving jobs and clearly seeking to get ahead in life). But you have to remember that, all in all, many 18-year-olds are impetuous, immature, and even reckless. This isn’t the sort of person you want transporting passengers, especially if those passengers are intoxicated.
Finally, there’s the related issue of insurance. Uber and Lyft insure all drivers while they’re transporting passengers. Therefore, we imagine that their insurance costs would be higher if they allowed people under 21 to drive for the service.
Neither company will admit this, but given that car insurance rates can be much higher for young drivers, it’s logical to assume that it’s an issue for Uber and Lyft as well. From this perspective, then, not allowing drivers under 21 to work for the platform is just a savvy business decision. Otherwise, they’d have to pay much higher rates to the insurance companies they work with.
Uber and Lyft Driver Requirements Overview
Uber and Lyft are all about safety. In addition to the minimum age requirement, they both have a variety of other requirements that drivers need to satisfy before they can get on the road and start receiving ride requests. We present this overview of these requirements below so that when you are old enough to drive for Uber and Lyft, you can make sure you tick the other necessary boxes.
To drive for Uber and Lyft, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Pass a criminal background check — Uber and Lyft work with third-party companies to check your criminal history. This check should not reveal any violent crimes, sexual offenses, or other disqualifying offenses. You can learn more in our full guies to Uber background checks and Lyft background checks.
- Pass a DMV check — Uber and Lyft will also examine your driving history to ensure that you have a clean driving record. This means that you don’t have a history of reckless driving, hit-and-run offenses, excessive traffic light violations, or any other disqualifying offenses. You can learn more here and here.
- Pass a vehicle inspection — Your city or state may require your vehicle to pass an inspection before you can drive for a rideshare company. Learn more in our guides to Uber vehicle inspections and Lyft vehicle inspections.
- Have a qualifying vehicle — There are also general Lyft and Uber vehicle requirements you’ll need to meet regardless of your city or state. These have to do with passenger capacity, number of doors, and other factors if you’re giving a type of ride that’s not the basic UberX or Lyft services. You can learn more in our guides to Lyft vehicle requirements and Uber vehicle requirements.
- Have the necessary documents — You’ll need to have a valid driver’s license, current vehicle registration/license plate, and a current car insurance policy.
- Meet local and state requirements — Your city or state may have its own requirements for rideshare drivers. For instance, in New York City the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is in charge of licensing, background checking, and otherwise supervising all rideshare drivers. You can learn more about this here.
5 Flexible Driving Jobs for People Under 21
Now that you understand the full range of requirements to drive for Uber and Lyft, including why they have a minimum age requirement of 21, let’s take a look at some driving jobs that you can do if you’re under 21. With one exception, all the jobs below require you to be only 18.
DoorDash is a food delivery service that serves a large number of markets across the U.S. (as well as a few cities in Canada). Working for the service involves making food deliveries using your car (or bike, scooter, or motorcycle in some cities).
You open the driver app, receive delivery requests, pick the food up at the restaurant, and deliver it to the customer. You can set your own schedule, and there’s even the chance to earn tips in exchange for prompt, excellent service. Best of all, you only have to be 18 to make DoorDash deliveries.
- Suggested: Learn how to become a DoorDash driver
If you want to deliver food but would rather work with higher-end restaurants, then you should check out Caviar. It’s pretty similar to DoorDash, except that the company has exclusive delivery agreements with some of the fanciest restaurants out there. You won’t be delivering fast food when you work for Caviar — only top-quality restaurants are allowed to use the service. Caviar only requires you to be 18 to make deliveries.
- Suggested: Learn how to become a Caviar courier
Postmates is a food delivery app, but it’s also so much more. Most of your deliveries for the service will involve food, but others will be from convenience stores or even grocery stores. You may also receive custom delivery requests that require you to go to stores not listed in the Postmates app.
This can make being a Postmate a far more exciting job at times than other services since you never know where you’ll be delivering from next. Postmates requires all drivers to be at least 18.
- Suggested: Learn how to become a Postmates driver
Would you rather deliver groceries instead of restaurant food? Then you should look into Instacart. It’s a grocery delivery service that lets customers place orders from the comfort of their homes. You go to the store, get the customer’s order, check out, and then deliver the items to their house. You’ll also be able to earn tips for good service, and you can set your own hours. You have to be at least 18 to drive for the service.
- Suggested: Learn how to drive for Instacart
5. Uber Eats
Last on our list, we have Uber Eats. It’s another food delivery service, and it’s growing rapidly due to Uber’s already large network of drivers and well-recognized name. While you have to be 21 to transport passengers for Uber, you only have to be 19 to drive for Uber Eats. We’re not sure why Uber chose 19 instead of 18 (maybe it’s so that drivers for the service aren’t still in high school).
But still, the fact that you don’t have to be 21 makes Uber Eats a good way to get familiar with the way the Uber service works and earn money while you wait to be old enough to transport Uber and Lyft passengers.
- Suggested: Learn how to become an Uber Eats driver
Don’t Let Age Requirements Stop You From Earning Money
While Uber and Lyft’s minimum age requirements may be frustrating, we hope you now see that there are many other ways to earn money driving when you’re only 18 (or 19, in the case of Uber Eats).
All of these jobs are better than other types of driving gigs you might be able to get at 18 (such as delivering pizzas), in that they have far more flexible hours. So what are you waiting for? Start driving and earning today!
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.