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  1. #1
    B-Ville Chingaling Hustla aeser's Avatar
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    question for messengers (especially boston)

    i'm sure this has been done to death but after a quick search i didn't find anything on this. pretty sick of my current job and looking to get another one and of course enjoying riding a bike so much being a messenger is appealing on many levels (and of course not appealing on other levels like no health insurance, etc. even though my current health insurance is pretty useless anyway) and i was wondering mainly how much money you make. i know it varies greatly, my coworker knew a messenger that was supposedly "very good at it" and said he makes between $30k and $60k a year depending on many factors (like how many other messengers there are in his area at the time and how much business they get etc.) i was just wondering if it is a viable option and if i can live on it. so anyone (especially in the boston area) that could tell me how much they pull down on average would be most appreciated. and appologies in advance if you've already read too many of these threads and i should have just searched harder.

  2. #2
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    Yeah Searching Harder Is A Good Thing But Active Messenger Let Help This Guy Out. Im Retired So My Knowledge Is Off.

    S/f,
    Ceya!
    Last edited by Ceya; 10-18-05 at 12:27 PM.

  3. #3
    Radio Bemba 00.0 EnLaCalle's Avatar
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    I think the only messenger that's made 60k in a year is that fake one in those Nike commercials.

  4. #4
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    There was an elite few when i rode..very FEW!!!

    S/f,
    Ceya!

  5. #5
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    Watch quicksilver for the insider's scoop.

  6. #6
    Geriatric Member 48x16's Avatar
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    What do you currently do? If you're sitting pretty right now and switch to being a messenger it's probably not worth it. Look at your rent and expenses. When I tried it I was only making about $50/day, so I quit. I couldn't take that kind of finiancial hit.

  7. #7
    B-Ville Chingaling Hustla aeser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 48x16
    What do you currently do? If you're sitting pretty right now and switch to being a messenger it's probably not worth it. Look at your rent and expenses. When I tried it I was only making about $50/day, so I quit. I couldn't take that kind of finiancial hit.
    i'm currently an IT helpdesk "sys admin", i would say i'm sitting pretty but i'm making (for some reason)$16k a year less than my coworker who has the same experience as me and has worked here a year less, and i can't really get by on what i'm making, which i guess makes it even more stupid for me to consider being a messenger since i already expected to make less doing that, i guess i figured it might be nice to have a job i enjoyed some facet of. but yea, $50 a day wouldn't begin to cut it in cambridge for me. i currently make $46k and even with my wife making about $26k a year we owe 4 months of rent right now and have the money to pay 1 month.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by aeser
    i'm currently an IT helpdesk "sys admin", i would say i'm sitting pretty but i'm making (for some reason)$16k a year less than my coworker who has the same experience as me and has worked here a year less, and i can't really get by on what i'm making, which i guess makes it even more stupid for me to consider being a messenger since i already expected to make less doing that, i guess i figured it might be nice to have a job i enjoyed some facet of. but yea, $50 a day wouldn't begin to cut it in cambridge for me. i currently make $46k and even with my wife making about $26k a year we owe 4 months of rent right now and have the money to pay 1 month.

    Wow, is this serious? You make $46k a year and are thinking about being a messenger? It's difficult just making $100 a day being a messenger. I've got a friend up in Boston and he's "Captain" of the bike messengers for his company (Company uses cars and bikes) and he's guaranteed $550 a week plus some bonuses. Keep in mind that he along with most messengers are considered to be indipendent contractors and don't get taxes taken out of their paychecks. I would highly suggest you keep you day job.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mueslix's Avatar
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    I think you guys need to think more about financial management. I know so many people who get by on significantly less than that combined income.

    That said, none of the messengers I know make that much, even the really good ones. And think about the fact that you'll have no life/medical insurance, and whatever other benefits you might currently get.

  10. #10
    So I says to Mable I says somnambulant's Avatar
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    I wish I was making $46k a year..

    I'm the web administrator for a large company and I make 40% less than you AND that's assuming you're being paid in cdn dollars (which you obviously aren't).

    So yeah, I'm suggesting you stick with it. (pun not intended)
    -Milpool

  11. #11
    B-Ville Chingaling Hustla aeser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quarters Mostly
    Wow, is this serious? You make $46k a year and are thinking about being a messenger? It's difficult just making $100 a day being a messenger. I've got a friend up in Boston and he's "Captain" of the bike messengers for his company (Company uses cars and bikes) and he's guaranteed $550 a week plus some bonuses. Keep in mind that he along with most messengers are considered to be indipendent contractors and don't get taxes taken out of their paychecks. I would highly suggest you keep you day job.

    yea i guess i don't see myself becoming a messenger, i was just trying to figure out what exactly i am going to do, because i'm pretty sick of the IT job market and would like to do something else, yet also have a hard time getting by on $46k a year and thus would of course like to make more than that, most of the people i know with equivilant experience are pulling in at least $60k a year doing what i'm doing either at the place i work or elsewhere, and owing the rent i owe and all the other debt i have right now i kind of need to be making more like that ammount of money. i didn't really expect anyone to tell me i could make more being a messenger (unless what i'm delivering are like kilo's of coke or something). just basically trying to figure out what exactly i am going to do.

  12. #12
    Geriatric Member 48x16's Avatar
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    99.9% of the time becoming a messenger isn't a career change you want to make. Especially if you're making 46k/yr.

    Now, if you were like me and making about half of that, then you might consider it..but only if you REALLY hate your job.

  13. #13
    B-Ville Chingaling Hustla aeser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somnambulant
    I wish I was making $46k a year..

    I'm the web administrator for a large company and I make 40% less than you AND that's assuming you're being paid in cdn dollars (which you obviously aren't).

    So yeah, I'm suggesting you stick with it. (pun not intended)
    yes but do your rent and bills total somewhere around $2400 a month not counting payments on the roughly $20,000 in debt you currently have, meanwhile the other people you see doing your job are making enough to pay your rent and bills and dig out of debt.

    i AM bad with money, i know this and have been trying to be better about it. and when i lived in new hampshire $46k a year was very very nice, but in moving to cambridge i literally doubled my cost of living, thinking (remember i'm bad with money) i'd be able to work it out, and since figuring i really can't while making what i'm making.

    as much as i'd like to get out of this industry my best bet financially is probably to go somewhere else and get another IT job for more money (which about 5 people at my work have done in the past month and a half).

    wow, this got off track from asking about being a messenger.

  14. #14
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    sounds like you need a financial adviser more than a messenger. Thankfully, I'm both! From both standpoints I'll tell you to either keep your current job or find something that pays a similar (or more) amount. (read: NOT messengering.) Many of us get by by existing in a parallel economy where we can survive on significantly less than what others expect (well, that and the trust funds of an increasing number of messengers.) For my company, three different dumpsters are an unofficial part of our daily routes, and we help deliver for FnB and get some food from that.

    Messenger business (especially in major cities) is SERIOUSLY contracting. I've said it before and it bears repeating. There is much less work to go around these days, largely due to technological change. At the same time, there are lots and lots of folks flocking to the business for the coolness factor. Smaller pie + more mouths to feed = much less pie for each mouth. As a newbie on the scene, don't expect any pie at all!

    The messenger business has to change significantly before it is anywhere near lucrative again for workers. My company has drastically changed the nature of our business, and we're still just breaking even, though we do pay ourselves a living wage and have great benefits. Some ideas are working outside of major cities where there may be an interest in messenger service, but there are far fewer competitors; changing the nature of our clients or what we deliver for them (pm me for some of the things we do), and marketing ourselves in different ways (as a cost-saving measure to hard-core bottom line businesses, as eco-friendly to greens, as comrades to bikers, etc.)

  15. #15
    Senior Member jacobs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quarters Mostly
    I've got a friend up in Boston and he's "Captain" of the bike messengers for his company (Company uses cars and bikes) and he's guaranteed $550 a week plus some bonuses.
    this guy doesn't work for a good company, if you max out at $550 a week, you are either lazy, real slow, your company doesn't have the work for you or your company has terrible rates. guaranttes are counterproductive torwards making higher wages for a number of reasons.

    you aren't going to make $26,000 a year starting out. it will probably take you over a year to really change that fact significantly. boston is a hard town to advance yourself in without climbing the "social ladder" to some extent. it's a very small, tight knit messenger community here.

    if you were going to start mess'ing, now is the best time to do it. most summer time superstars have quit, and theres more work than in the summer on top of that.

    honestly, it sounds like this isn't the job for you, but it's not the job for most.




    also, 60k a year is near impossible for an ic, but 46k is not. as an independent, you could do 60k with a few decent clients. as an ic, you could really bust your ass for a top notch company and make 46.

  16. #16
    Good Afternoon! SamHouston's Avatar
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    I maxed out in Tx at 35k one year, did around 32K for 2 years or so on either side of that high point. I worked hard but not too hard, just honest hard +smart. I learned the courts and everyone in them, swooped a cherry position at the best company in town working from noon or 2pm until whenever which could be 7-8pm or 4:30am when I'd get relief from morning guys/dispatch. I had been there 4 years or so before that situation was an option. Plus it's not the best thing, living on call. I moved into a fancy highrise downtown to be near the work and lived damn well but being on call can really mess with a mind. I often slept with my pager by my head and my 2way lying on my chest clipped to a tee shirt and a cell phone by my other ear with the landline on the nightstand. It was okay at the time as I was living pretty loose but I wouldn't do it now, much better for a single fella.

    The good parts were the easy money and riding at night. Anything within the loop I did on a bike and it was some peaceful riding, faster too. For the long hauls I'd get it and hand it off or delegate it to a car, sometimes I had to drive but not too much.

    If you can't live w/out money the first year will kill you unless you have it all paid up in advance. Once you're in it can be a career. If you get to where you have to retire from the road...there are other parts to the industry it's not just guys on bikes. So if you played your cads right you can step up when it's time to foot down.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rancid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r-dub
    Smaller pie + more mouths to feed = much less pie for each mouth. As a newbie on the scene, don't expect any pie at all!
    Now thats some math I can understand.
    I've been here since 2004? I've never felt this old before.

  18. #18
    anti-sheep astrx's Avatar
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    usground in boston was hiring last week with a 500/week minimum. i guess if you were an experienced messenger, i wouldnt tell you to go there, but since you arent, i think thats the best deal to start off at. you get a little experience and dont have to drop below the poverty line.

    also, move into a cheaper place, i mean boston is expensive but dammm. i was a messenger in DC and even though i made around 400 a week, i split a two bedroom with a guy and my half was only 500. because most dc couriers are in the park drinking beer, its a good place to get your start and get good money for it. most tags are 6.50 and up, so do the math.

    if your just trying to get a chance of professions, i feel that. i graduated from a school in cambridge last year. i just got this interview to be a public school teacher in philly. 8:30 to 3:30 plus 37,000 starting. its seems like a good deal.

  19. #19
    Senior Member jacobs's Avatar
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    usground are shady pieces of shlt. i worked for them for a long time, and they still owe me over $1k for the last few weeks i did there. you will make more working for them then for city express, but it's almost never going to be $500 take home. your ic liability insurance and payroll comes to about $40 a week, and they charge you $20 a week to rent their radios. they also force you to use a really counter productive dispatch system, and their dispatchers are incompetent. the company breaks the law daily by charging under $3.00 a tag for some clients, and you only get 50% of that ridiculous rate. i was the only person at the company who ever broke guarantee, and i had to kill myself to get over that $100 a day, begging the dispatcher for more.

    be careful with those guys, they'll throw you in the gutter if in any way it serves them to do so.

  20. #20
    Senior Member cabana 4 life's Avatar
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    i was once a ups driver i made about 32,000 a year and had full benifts. but it was so stress full i had to take prozac to go to work!!! so one day i quite done. now i ride a pedicab and make maybe 5,000 a year and started a small t-shirt buisness. bottom line i dont need prozac any more. im not saying its right for you, but it sucks to hate your job.. not just dislike it, but hate. thats my two cents

  21. #21
    Beat on the brat
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    I busted my ass for a few months as a courier in Boston and struggled to make $60 a day.

  22. #22
    best-dressed mess gnatthew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnLaCalle
    I think the only messenger that's made 60k in a year is that fake one in those Nike commercials.
    I knew multiple dudes who would take home about 50k/a year. Crazy rare though and it takes either a ****-ton of dedication or just natural skill. Or both. Otherwise you're probably looking closer to the low 20k's. You should do it anyway, it's a buttload of fun no matter how you slice it.

  23. #23
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    As a former messenger in Bostont, here's what I have to say. After 9/11 everything went to ****. Jobs that would normally take 2-3 minutes took 10. I worked for an okcompany at the time (Choice) and made about 32k per year. I was their top ride. To get into any decent company you're going to have to work for 3-5 years (RS Xpress, etc...) The market isn't what it used to be. It takes time and dedication.
    If you want to do it, now is the time. The summer messengers will wuss out now that winter is here and you can make an "ok" living. Be prepared to fix flats in 5 degree weather. Be prepared to ride for an hour for 10 bucks. In the Boston messenger world,
    money comes with time. Look forward to long crappy days in the slush. If you're willing to give the time, the money will come. But it does take a while before signifigant earnings will show.
    Look for a company that gives a guarantee. At least you'll know your minimum income.
    Best of luck
    Rob

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