Pilot Salary: How Much Does A Pilot Earn?


Have you ever wondered, ‘How much does a Pilot Salary cost?’ A starting salary for a newly qualified commercial pilot working for a small operation in a country like the UK may be around £22,000, and an experienced long-haul captain’s salary may be well over £100,000.

The training process to become a pilot can be very costly, sometimes costing up to £100,000. However, it could lead to a very lucrative career; according to the 2018 ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, an airline pilot was the 6th highest-paid full-time profession in the UK.

Continue reading to learn how much a pilot could earn flying different types of aircraft for different airlines.

What Does a Pilot do?

Commercial pilots passenger and cargo planes. They may also fly aircraft used in firefighting and rescue operations, depending on their training, experience, and qualifications. Some are in charge of charter flights, crop dusting, and aerial photography.

A commercial pilot may do the following in the course of their regular duties:

  • Adhere to a checklist for checking engines and other aircraft systems before flying
  • Ensure that the weight of the plane is well balanced
  • Check flight schedules, fuel and weather conditions before departure
  • Communicate with the control tower and receive instructions for takeoff and landing
  • Start the plane’s engine, administer its controls and steer the plane along a preplanned route
  • Monitor fuel consumption and the function of the plane’s other systems
  • Control the aircraft with the instruments and mechanisms in the cockpit
  • Ensure smooth takeoff and landing

In larger aircraft, two pilots are usually in charge of flying the plane. The more experienced pilot assumes command of the plane and its crew as captain. The second pilot is known as the first officer, and his or her primary responsibility is to assist the captain in flying the plane and to take over when necessary. The first officer is also in charge of communicating with the control tower and implementing corrective actions.

Commercial pilots must plan their flights down to the last detail, so excellent time management skills are required. Takeoffs and landings are the most critical parts of a flight, during which the captain and copilot must work in perfect coordination.

How to become a commercial pilot- Step-by-step guide

With the proper training, almost anyone can learn to fly a plane and operate an aircraft. However, becoming a commercial pilot necessitates a series of steps.

The following are the six steps you should take to become a commercial pilot:

  • Firstly, Get a private pilot certificate.
  • Secondly, Acquire an instrument rating.
  • Thirdly, Obtain a commercial pilot license.
  • Furthermore, Secure a flight instructor certificate.
  • Next, Get experience.
  • Finally, Work as a commercial pilot.

#1. Get a private pilot certificate

Obtaining a private pilot certificate is the first step toward becoming a commercial pilot. Training and preparation for pilot certification entail learning the fundamentals of aviation and laying a solid foundation for more advanced aircraft operations. Most pilots begin their training on single-engine planes before progressing to larger, more complex aircraft.

It typically takes 40 hours of training to become a private pilot. Typically, training consists of 20 hours of instruction with a flight instructor followed by 20 hours of solo flight. The average cost of obtaining a private license is $9,900, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

#2. Acquire an instrument rating

Obtaining an instrument rating is the next step toward becoming a commercial pilot. An instrument rating is a set of qualifications that a pilot must have before being permitted to fly under Instrument Flight Rules. Obtaining an instrument rating also qualifies pilots to fly in all weather conditions. Earning an instrument rating necessitates training in meteorology and instrument flying.

#3. Obtain a commercial pilot license

The following step is to get a commercial pilot’s license. To obtain a license, applicants must meet all of the requirements for commercial airline pilots and fly a high-standard aircraft for 10 hours or more. They will also be required to complete 250 or more flight hours, including 100 hours as the pilot-in-command and 50 hours of cross-country flight. A commercial pilot license costs around $20,000 to obtain. Pilots can legally be paid for their services after obtaining a license.

#4. Secure a flight instructor certificate

Commercial pilots may be required to obtain a flight instructor certificate in some cases. This qualifies pilots for certain positions and opens up new job opportunities.

#5. Get experience

Many commercial pilot jobs require actual flying experience. For example, having a minimum of 1,500 hours of flying time is one of the requirements for obtaining an Airline Transport Pilot license, which is required of all commercial pilots.

#6. Work as a commercial pilot

You will be able to fly for an airline as a commercial pilot once you have obtained your licenses and met the minimum flight hour requirements. Working for an airline professionally can also qualify you for most regional and international commercial pilot positions.

How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot?

It costs about $87,995 to become a pilot if you have no prior experience, or $68,995 if you have a private pilot certificate. Both prices include all of the flight training and certification required to become a commercial pilot, as well as flight instructor certificates. Financing options and flight training loans are available to assist student pilots in covering the costs of becoming commercial pilots.

How much do pilots make?

Flying is a financially and personally rewarding profession. Pilots go through extensive training to develop a one-of-a-kind skill set. As a result, commercial pilots are well compensated.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, “the median annual wage for commercial pilots was $86,080 in May 2019, while the median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $147,200.”

In addition to annual pay, pilots are eligible for company health, life, and disability insurance, as well as retirement plans. In many cases, these plans outnumber those provided to employees in other fields.

The salary of an airline pilot can range from $28,000 to several hundred thousand dollars per year.

Private pilot salary

A private pilot is a certified aviation specialist who holds a private pilot certificate, which allows them to legally fly an aircraft. Furthermore, Private pilots are trained in the operation of small aircraft, navigation, aircraft maneuvers, cross-country flight planning, and emergency procedures. Hence, becoming a private pilot can also help you prepare to become a commercial pilot, which allows you to earn money by flying for individuals, events, private companies, and commercial airlines.

While private pilots cannot earn money solely on the basis of their private pilot certificate, commercially licensed pilots who work for individuals and businesses are compensated for their efforts. Because commercial certificates require less training than airline transport certificates, corporate or charter pilots may earn less than commercial airline pilots.

Most commercially licensed pilots are salaried, which means they are paid a set amount per year despite the fact that their schedules can be unpredictable. Pilots earn an average of $86,080 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

International pilot salary

The average annual salary for an International Pilot in the United States is $72,524 as of October 29, 2023.

In case you need a quick salary calculator, that works out to about $34.87 per hour. This equates to $1,395 per week or $6,044 per month.

The majority of International Pilot salaries in the United States currently range from $41,000 (25th percentile) to $87,500 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) earning $127,000 per year.

The average annual salary for an International Pilot in the United States is $72,524 as of October 29, 2023.

In case you need a quick salary calculator, that works out to about $34.87 per hour. This equates to $1,395 per week or $6,044 per month.

The majority of International pilot salary in the United States currently range from $41,000 (25th percentile) to $87,500 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) earning $127,000 per year.

Commercial pilot salary

Currency and exchange rates are important considerations when debating whether or not pilots are paid millions of dollars.

Moreover, Pilots on international flights are the highest-paid, with an average salary of $115,950.

Pilot salaries in the United States vary by state. Pilot salary is determined by factors such as gender, education, the type of Boeing a pilot flies, and his level of experience in practice. Pilots typically earn millions of dollars.

Commercial pilot license cost

The cost of obtaining your pilot license is ultimately determined by the type of pilot license you wish to obtain. The type of flying you want to do determines the level of license you need. A Sport Pilot license, for example, maybe the best fit if you want to fly for fun, whereas a Commercial Pilot license would be the first big step in an aviation career.

Different licenses necessitate varying levels of ground and flight instruction, as well as varying testing requirements.

Before you can fly, you must first obtain a license or an aviation certificate. As a result, anyone with a Private Pilot License (PPL) must obtain a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) before flying passengers.

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You must research instrument meteorological conditions, also known as IMC conditions, for single and multi-engine aircraft.

Pass a Night rating with a total flight time of 50 hours and another 50 hours in pilot in command sections.

Once you’ve completed those steps, you’ll be able to fly commercial airlines.

If you want to fly with co-pilots, you must have a multi-crew pilot license.

You’ll realize that it takes a lot of hard work to become one of the highest-paid airline pilots.

Best paid airlines for pilots in USA, 2023

Here are the best-paid airlines for pilots in the USA in 2023:

  • American Airways
  • Alaska Airline
  • United airlines
  • Delta Airline
  • Southwest Airline
  • Jet blue Airways

#1. American Airways

The headquarters of this airline is in Fort Worth, Texas. It was established on April 15, 1926.

As a long-standing aviation company, it employs some of the highest-paid airline pilots, with a Pilot salary ranging from $90,000 to $245,000. An annual salary for seniors ranges from 314,000 to 342,000.

#2. Alaska Airline

Alaska Airlines, one of the oldest airlines in the United States, has an excellent reputation among its employees.

This 77-year-old aviation company first appeared in 1944.

A pilot salary in this industry range from $93,000 to 190,000 for a first officer who has worked for the company for a year to 12 years.

The fee for new captains is $226,000, with a potential salary of $266,000 after 12 years of service.

Alaska Airlines employs one of the world’s highest-paid airline pilots.

#3. United airlines

It was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

Annual salaries for United pilots range from $91,000 to $240,000 for first officers.

Captains earn between $323,000 and $352,000 per year, depending on their years of experience in the field.

#4. Delta Airline

This airline has been in operation since 1929, nearly 92 years. Virginia Atlanta, Endeavor air, and others are among its subsidiary airlines.

A first officer earns around $92,000 in their first year of practice. He earns $232,00 by her 12th year of practice. A captain’s salary ranges from $325,000 to $354,000.

This airline’s pilots are also among the highest-paid in the industry.

#5. Southwest Airline

The fee for her pilots is ranked sixth in the United States, 2023, as a company founded on March 15, 1967. Her corporate headquarters are in Dallas, Texas.

A first-year officer can expect to earn between $84,000 and $191,000 per year. Captains’ salaries range from $241,000 to $274,000.

#6. Jet blue Airways

Jetblue was established in 1998. The headquarters of this 22-year-old aviation company is in Long Island City, New York.

Within the first three years of service, it pays its first officer pilots approximately $89,000. Within 12 years of working as a pilot, he earns $180,000. Captains are the highest-paid airline pilots, with salaries ranging from $234,000 to $269,000.

How is a Pilot’s Salary Determined?

First and foremost, keep in mind that airline pilots are paid per hour for actual hours flown. Moreover, airline pilots are required by federal law to fly no more than 1,000 hours a year. This is to ensure that they are rested and ready to fly every time they enter the cockpit. However,  when compared to usual employment, where employees are expected to work 40 hours each week. Even if they take two weeks off for vacation, the average worker works 2,000 hours per year – more than a commercial pilot.

The hourly rate of a pilot rises with each year of service with an airline. Nevertheless, the hourly wage varies depending on the airline and the kind of aircraft. An experienced Captain flying an A350 for Delta, for instance, may expect to earn $354 per hour. While a  junior First Officer earns $92 per hour at Delta. A senior Captain on a United Airlines B777 earns $352, and a junior First Officer earns $91. Everything matters, including whether you fly a Boeing 747 or a Bombardier CRJ200. Experience is also important, whether you’ve been flying professionally for a year or 10. It is also important to know the airline you have decided to fly with. All of this influences how your pay is determined.

FAQs about Pilot Salary

How much do pilots earn?

A pilot salary is highly dependent on the airline, the individual’s level of experience, and the type of aircraft flown. Salaries will vary but typically rise with each year of service with a company.

Do I need a college degree to be a pilot?

To become a commercial pilot, you do not need a bachelor’s degree. Many airlines, on the other hand, may require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in addition to the actual flying experience. In any case, having a bachelor’s degree will increase your chances of working in the aviation industry.

How can I become a pilot?

Accredited training, practical flight hours, and licensure are all required to become a commercial or airline transport pilot.

What Are The Basic Requirements to become a pilot?

To become a certified commercial pilot, you must first meet basic requirements such as being 18 years old and having a high school diploma. You must be able to effectively communicate in both written and spoken English. Individuals seeking a commercial pilot license must also have second-class medical certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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