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Ultimate Dasher Guide: Everything You Need to Know as a DoorDash Driver

This guide will cover all you need to know about being a Dasher – basic information, responsibilities, earnings, and a comprehensive review – in order to maximize your experience in the gig economy.

Justin C.
Justin C.
Last Updated: 
August 28, 2021


In today’s world, there are many ways to make additional money, but one of the most popular ways is through delivery services. As one of the most widespread food delivery services in the US, DoorDash presents itself as one of the primary choices for individuals looking for a side hustle. Many people sign up to be DoorDash drivers (called "Dashers"), but they struggle to fully understand the intricacies of being a Dasher and its responsibilities.

This guide will cover all you need to know about being a Dasher – basic information, responsibilities, earnings, and a comprehensive review – in order to maximize your experience in the gig economy. 

What is DoorDash?

Launched in 2013, DoorDash is the largest on-demand delivery service in the US accounting for 56% of total meal delivery sales in June 2021. With over 450,000 restaurant partnerships across the US, Canada, and Australia, DoorDash allows you to order food or takeout with a simple touch of a button. Through its incredible convenience, DoorDash has amassed over 20 million monthly customers in 2020. In order to fulfill the influx of customer’s deliveries and needs, DoorDash has assembled its own fleet of Dashers who fulfill these orders.

What is a Dasher?

All in all, “Dasher” is the collective name of all the delivery drivers working for DoorDash. When you sign up to become a delivery driver for DoorDash, you are a Dasher.

Dasher Requirements

Being a Dasher also entails certain responsibilities. As a Dasher, you will be required to deliver food to customers. DoorDash has a few basic requirements that you need to in order to become a Dasher:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Any car, scooter, or bicycle (in select cities)
  • Driver's license number
  • Social security number (only in United States)

Dasher Application

1. Fill out basic information
  • Name
  • Address
  • Location
  • Email
2. Background and Vehicle Check
  • Through Checkr, DoorDash checks your background and is provided a report on your history
  • Note: You may get rejected as a potential a Dasher if you have a history as a sex offender, convicted felon or criminal
3. Apply for Activation Kit or for in-person Orientation
  • Activation Kit includes Heat Retaining Carrier Bag, DoorDash Debit Card, Getting Started Manual
4. Submit a W-9 Form
  • This form gives DoorDash the necessary information in order to notify the IRS of your income

Dasher Pay Model and Earnings

Generally, DoorDash pay and earnings differ from location to location. For example, being a Dasher in New York will have a different pay than being a Dasher in Kansas. However, the pay structure of DoorDash remains fairly constant:

Base Pay:

  • Guaranteed money for each delivery
  • Factored based on driving distance, time, and desirability
  • Higher Pay: More driving distance, more time, and less popular with Dashers (more people who reject the delivery)
  • Range: $2-$10


  • DoorDash offers specific promotions to encourage Dashers to drive
  • On-time delivery: Additional $2
  • Peak Pay: Additional $1-$7
  • Delivery at times where many individuals are ordering food
  • Completing Challenges
  • Ability to earn extra money by completing a certain number of delivers in a set amount of time


  • Small additional payments from customers who appreciate your service
  • Amount of tip varies from person to person

Some sources have noted that you can earn between $15-$25/hour + tips, while others say that you can earn $10-$14/hour + tips. If you are just starting out as a Dasher, you can be projected to earn $9-$10/hour + tips.

Your pay is heavily dependent on the customers in your market and how much they tip you, not DoorDash

Note: Online influencers who have experience in being Dashers say that they average $7-$10 per delivery and average 2-3 deliveries per hour. 

Understanding Dasher Finances

By being an independent contractor as a Dasher, DoorDash does not provide any direct employee benefits such as medical insurance, overtime, vacation days, or retirement plans. Instead, you will have to cover all of those by yourself. Additionally, DoorDash will also not withhold a portion of your paycheck to pay taxes. This means that DoorDash will give you your full paycheck and you have to file and manage your own taxes liabilities yourself.

Expenses - Dashers have the responsibility pay off their own expenses:
  • Gas
  • Car Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Cell Phone Data
  • Parking Fees, Toll Booths, Parking Tickets etc.
  • Any other driver-related expense
  • As these expenses are business-related, you have the ability to write these taxes off (More detail below)

As an independent contractor, DoorDash gives you a 1099-NEC tax form to fill out. When filing tax reports for the IRS, you need to file your own taxes. Many business-related expenses are tax-deductible. As a Dasher, it is imperative to keep track of all your earnings and expenses throughout the entire year related to being a Dasher. This will allow you to report all these expenses when you file taxes and reduce the amount of taxes you pay. When you are ready to file taxes, you must file a Schedule C Form 1040 to determine your profits for the IRS to assess taxes and refunds.

Tips to Maximize DoorDash Income

  • Use DoorDash Promotions (Peak Pay, Challenges, etc.)
  • Because promotions incentivize drivers to drive through monetary rewards, you should always try to achieve the promotions whenever possible
  • Accept more than one order at a time
  • By accepting more than one order at a time, you have the opportunity to deliver more orders at the same time. Since payment is paid per order, this tactic will increase your working efficiency and allow you to get paid more
  • Avoid Slow Orders
  • Orders with long wait times (over 10-15 minutes) or difficult drop offs (higher building floors or complex security check-ins) take more time than an average delivery and usually have the same pay
  • Note: Although some of these orders may come with higher tips, DoorDash currently does not allow Dashers to see how much they are getting tipped before accepting the order
  • Strategic Driving
  • Avoid high traffic areas
  • High Traffic Areas cause a lot of blockage for all vehicles. By going through high traffic areas, you run the risk of not only damaging your vehicle, but also delaying the time it takes to deliver food. This will decrease your pay
  • Drive during peak hours
  • Many customers like to order food around breakfast, lunch and dinnertime
  • Breakfast is one of the best times because there are fewer Dashers on the road

Top Dasher Program

The Top Dasher Program is DoorDash’s incentive program that rewards the best Dashers. If you fulfill certain requirements from DoorDash, DoorDash will reward you with benefits which could increase your ability to make money


  • Customer Rating: At least 4.7
  • Completion Rate: 95% or higher
  • Acceptance Rate: 70% or higher
  • At least 100 completed deliveries over the last month
  • Over 200 life-time deliveries completed


  • Dash Now
  • Normally, Dashers must schedule their hours in advance, but with Dash Now, you can deliver whenever or wherever you want 
  • Priority Access to High Value Orders (Orders costing $35 or more for the consumer)
  • High value orders usually have higher tips because of the higher cost

How Does This Program Work?

The Top Dasher Program starts on the first day of every month. As long as you meet the requirements on the first day, you are considered a Top Dasher for the rest of the month. For example, if you meet all the requirements for the Program in August, you will be considered a Top Dasher in September and will receive all the benefits of being a Top Dasher in the month of September.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • DoorDash cannot force you to accept deliveries, this program is an incentive for you to accept more deliveries
  • Since the Top Dasher program is recognized on the first day of every month, if you achieve Top Dasher status in the middle of the month, you will need to retain that status until the start of the next month

Dasher Pros and Cons 

  • Ability to set your own schedule
  • Dasher Perks (Discount on Taxes, Vehicles, Healthcare, Maintenance)
  • Ability to schedule different shift times
  • Ability to see minimum payment before order request
  • Dasher Promotions
  • Ability to use multiple vehicles (Car, Scooter, Bike, etc.) in select places
  • Top Dasher Program
  • Inability to see tips before accepting order request
  • Lack of helpfulness of customer service
  • Promotions failing to work properly
  • Popular shift times may be in high demand
Justin C.
Justin C.

Justin is a contributing author at GigSpace and currently is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Journalism. He is passionate about the future of work and also delivers for Uber Eats and DoorDash with over 500+ deliveries made.

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