Driver Success Story: Driving For Lyft and Becoming a Census Worker

Rideshare driving is a great way to make money on the side, but in most parts of the country, it’s very difficult to make a full-time living on a rideshare driver’s income. RSG regularly covers life after rideshare, and this article by RSG contributor Chonce Maddox Rhea is no different. Here, she interviews rideshare driver Rich about his other gig as a Census worker.

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Rideshare driving attracts a lot of people because it’s flexible and allows you to work independently, for the most part. While it seems like an ideal part-time gig, it’s important that drivers don’t put all their eggs into one basket.

It’s no secret that Uber and Lyft often make a ton of changes, including some that can affect how and when you drive along with how much money you make.

Wondering what your life after/outside of rideshare driving can look like? I recently sat down with Rich, an RSG reader, to interview him about how he’s enjoying rideshare driving but also keeping his options open with an interesting new income stream as a Census worker.

Rich is retired and has been driving for Lyft part-time in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the past two years. Uber recently came to Sioux Falls a few weeks ago and Rich has already completed 56 Uber trips so far.

In this interview he’s sharing some of his best rideshare driving tips along with how you can land a seasonal job or even a permanent position as a Census worker.

What’s the main reason you drive — part-time income, full-time, earning enough money for something in particular?

“I just work nights mostly and do about 5-6 hour shifts. I used to work on submarines for 37 years up in Connecticut but the cost of retirement was expensive there so I moved to South Dakota. Driving for Lyft (and now Uber) helps me make a little extra money for expenses and even help my son pay some bills.”

Lyft and Uber offers new driver bonuses that do vary depending on your city. This is a nice incentive to motivate someone to start driving regularly and narrowing down a system that works for them.

What are the best tips, tricks, or tools that you use?

“I use Farepilot, which is an app that helps rideshare drivers locate the best areas for their next trip. I also use Flightradar24 which is an app that helps me track flights in real time so I can know when to go near the airport for pickups. The Rideshare Guy community has also been super helpful as I watch the Rideshare Guy YouTube videos and learned about Stride app to help me track the mileage on my car.

I enjoy talking to passengers and making them feel comfortable – this is not really a ‘trick’ per se but it’s just good to be friendly and can even increase your tips. I don’t spend a lot of time going to venues where big events are held because you’re lucky to get one ride from that and you’ll have to deal with all the traffic which can lessen your chances of being available for more trips in that area.”


What’s your rating and do you have any tips for keeping it high?

“In my opinion, it’s very hard to maintain a 5-star rating. I had it for about 6 weeks at one time but now my rating is 4.95 and my acceptance rate is up to around 95% which still isn’t bad.

I try to keep my car very clean, aim to provide a positive and relaxing experience for passengers, and accept most trips that come through to keep a good rating.”

Increasing your driver rating is important, but it’s not the only way to help you get more trips and improve your earnings. Other things you can do include:

  • Driving on holidays
  • Learning the hot spots for pickups in your area
  • Earning your weekly incentives
  • Driving for more than one rideshare company (which is something Rich started doing as soon as Uber became available in his area)

We have more ways to help you maximize your earnings as a rideshare driver here.

What do you wish you knew when you first started?

“In Sioux Fall they have hired way too many drivers and there is a lot of competition. When I first started, I could make decent money with Lyft, but now I have to put in more hours to many anything. Plus, it puts extra miles on my car. I drive a 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander and already have 43,000 miles on it.

I do like driving at night because there is less traffic but sometimes not as many trips. I’ve learned to wait for passengers at the airport since sometimes this helps me get longer rides. Beforehand, I like to check to see how many flights are coming in at the time and compare that to the amount of active drivers who are in the area to carefully weigh my odds of getting a good trip.”

Not sure if airport queues are worth the wait in your city? Check out this video below on what to know before you hop into an airport queue:


What’s your advice for people just starting out?

“My best tip is that if you’re interested in making good money is to just work during the busiest times, which is often Friday and Saturday nights. Also, be sure to change your oil every 3,000 miles because the stop-and-go nature of rideshare driving can affect your car and the extra wear makes your oil dirtier even with the newer synthetic oils.

Also, be observant of who you pick up if you’re doing night driving. If they seem too drunk or drugged out, be sure to message Uber or Lyft to let them know about the experience with that passenger.” Here’s how to contact Uber for the fastest support, and how to contact Lyft.

How did you find out about becoming a Census worker?

“My wife actually worked for the Census for 4-5 years before becoming handicapped and she enjoyed it. I also did centennial work back in 2010. I applied for the permanent job a few weeks ago, but they also offer a seasonal part-time centennial job which is coming up for the year 2020.

The Centennial job basically requires you to go out and interview people who don’t answer their questionnaire. All this data is used by cities, businesses, etc. to help them learn more about who’s residing in the area and how they can be accommodating and improve it for them.”

Rich added the Census work can seem attractive to rideshare drivers in particular because they are already used to working flexibly. The United States Census Bureau offers opportunities for entry-level, mid-career, managerial, and even student candidates who are looking for work.

How do you find out if they need census takers in your city?

There are permanent jobs at Census hubs in major cities like Denver, Dallas, and Washington D.C. However, they will be hiring a lot of people soon for the centennial work since all the cities will need to collect data.

You can go to the Census website to see which positions are available in your area and apply. You can also perform a quick Google search and see which job postings come up. I searched on Google for the term ‘Census taker’ and a position showed up for my area that pays $19.50 per hour.

The United States Census Bureau is an equal opportunity employer, and it looks like you’ll need some basic information to start your application like:

  • Social Security Number
  • Home address
  • Email address and phone number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Supporting documentation if you’re a veteran

Ad: Rideshare drivers enjoy using cash back apps because it helps them save money on their everyday purchases. Here’s a list of the best cash back apps that we recommend trying out.

How does the application process and training work?

“The application process is pretty extensive and will take a few weeks. They run a detailed background check on candidates and for the permanent position you may have to take a test. The test I took was pretty easy and just seemed like basic questions to determine how well I get along with other people.

You will be training at local or regional office and for the centennial temp work the training often takes place in groups. The training is paid and they will also likely pay for your travel accommodations if necessary. The best time for Census takers to work is from 3pm to 8pm, which is when people are usually home. This makes the job flexible for rideshare drivers who can drive during the day or even after their shift.”

How are Census takers deployed and roughly how long does the job last?

It’s important to carefully read the description for each Census job as I’ve found some important differences. For example, this Field Representative position in the Chicago area lasts for 1 year and 1 month but may be extended up to 4 years.

Duties include interviewing respondents to collect survey or census data as required for current, on-going surveys, one-time surveys, and special censuses.

This position in particular is dependent on your location as it’s only available in a select number of states.

Still there is such a wide variety of opportunities on the Census website that you are bound to find some work you can apply for if you’re truly interested in this income idea.

Rich is just one of many sharp rideshare drivers who are keeping their options open in terms of having flexible income streams. In addition to rideshare driving, Rich can work as a Census worker and, when he completes work for them or decides to move on, can move back to rideshare driving full time or into other lucrative work (in addition to driving).

Are you a driver who’s also working toward pursuing a side business, other gig work, or even learning a new skill that will allow you to break into a different career field? Have questions for Rich about working for the U.S. Census Bureau? Sound off in the comments!

-Chonce @ RSG