Proof You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job in Tech to Drive for Uber, Lyft

Lyft and Uber like to position their ride-share services as job replacements or a good “side gig.” But recent data shows tech pros shouldn’t quit their day jobs to drive on demand.

Last month, Uber attempted to correct a study on its driver earnings, and said average gross earnings per driver were $19.04 per hour, and as much as $21.07 per hour based on an independent Stanford study. Net earnings – take-home pay after expenses such as gas and maintenance – are between $13.04 and $16.53, Uber added.

The study Uber takes umbrage with comes from MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR), and says the average hourly net wage for ride-share drivers is $3.37. Ouch.

Lyft has also released findings on its drivers. While not going directly after the CEERP study (“Understandably, we’ve seen a few external groups take their own guesses at what Lyft drivers make,” the company writes), Lyft’s findings are similar to Uber’s. It says drivers make an average of $18.83 per hour, which can drift up to $21.08 in the company’s top 25 markets. It further fudges some math for busy drivers to boost those figures to $29.47 and $31.18 per hour, respectively.

It points to the same independent study as Uber to show $3-5 per hour for operating expenses, which hammers home the point: If you drive Uber or Lyft, you can expect to make roughly $13-17 per hour.

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So how does that stack up to jobs in tech? The Dice Salary Survey tracks jobs by title and reported earnings. In 20th place is “Help Desk,” often an entry-level tech job. Reported wages are $43,343 annually. Breaking that down to an hourly rate, we see Help Desk staff earn just shy of $21 per hour.

Although Uber and Lyft point to the same survey for out-of-pocket driver expenses, that data actually does them a disservice. It suggests Uber and Lyft drivers earn $16.08 on average (with the unfortunate caveat that African-American drivers say they earn about $13.96 per hour). But that doesn’t factor in expenses such as gas, maintenance, and insurance, which can have a real impact.

If you’ve had that twinge of “I should just quit and go drive for Uber or Lyft” when things get tough at work, don’t… unless you like wonky income levels, doing your own 1099 taxes, driving strangers around, and traffic.

5 Responses to “Proof You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job in Tech to Drive for Uber, Lyft”

  1. Ride sharing was never supposed to be about making a living. It was to get a few extra bucks for gasoline to give someone who was heading to the same area as you a lift I.E you’re heading “downtown” and you give someone a lift to the airport which is a few exits before your exit.

    Uber is an illegal taxi service.

  2. Uber use people as slaves. They really don’t cares about anybody expect themselves. A lot of drives have luck of education they can’t do math to see if it’s worth it or not . Yes making Kirby for short term and losing the car for long term. Government should stop uber from using roads and public area because they make money on us

  3. Bob- it is NOT an illegal taxi service. The numbers given in this article seem suspect. I am grateful to have been able to drive for Uber and Lyft the last 2 years, the income has been substantial and it gives me the cash flow I need to put me through school. The statement that it was never meant to be a means to make a living is totally false. Thousands of us ARE making a living doing this work.

  4. I stopped using Uber for two reasons
    1. Too many weird driver experiences
    2. They are not ALL adequately insured. If an Uber driver is in accident and does not have coverage,, or proper coverages, then you, as the employer of the driver, can be sued.