How Much Do Pilot’s Make?
“In 2018, the median annual pay for a commercial airline pilot was $113,709”
If you’ve ever thought about becoming a pilot, you’ve probably wanted to know how much pilots make. After all, the road to becoming a commercial airline pilot can be long and expensive one. It makes sense that you would want to make sure you’d be happy with the pay.
Being a commercial pilot includes flying both small and large airplanes full of passengers to their destination. This includes everything from short flights on small commuter planes all the way up to large intercontinental flights with hundreds of passengers.
Below are some of the details on how much commercial pilots make as well as some additional valuable information on the job. Keep in mind that this is specifically for commercial airline pilots and does not include private pilots or other types of pilots.
Pilot’s are responsible for more than most people think they’re responsible for. In addition to flying the plane during the flight they also are responsible for preparing for each flight. This includes reviewing the weather, the condition of the airplane, making sure it has enough fuel, and much more. During the flight the pilot is in charge of the staff on the aircraft as well as radio communications.
Education and Requirements
Becoming a commercial airline pilot is a long journey. In addition to having a college degree, you’ll also need to attend flight school. This can either be a civilian flight school or in the military. You then have to progress through the ranks of the pilot certifications starting with a private pilot certificate, commercial pilot certificate, and eventually a Airline Transport Certificate.
This final step can take a pilot a long time to achieve due to the training/education required to pass all exams and accumulating over 1500 hours of flight time. For more information on these different certificates and how to earn them, visit our article on types of pilot licenses.
General Commercial Pilot Salary Info
In 2018, the median annual pay for a commercial airline pilot was $113,709. The bottom 10% annual salary was $66,970 while the top 10% earned an average of over $187,000. As you can see, there is a wide range of salaries for pilots.
This salary can vary depending on factors including:
- Years of experience
- Type of aircraft flown
- Geographic Region
- Airline specific pay ranges
Pilots are also often paid a per diem when traveling in order to cover food, lodging, and other expenses. In addition, if they have to travel overnight, their accommodations are paid for by their employer.
When first starting out as a pilot your salary will be lower as you gain experience as is common for most occupations. Early in their careers, pilot’s can expect their pay to start in the range of $55,000 to $65,000 with annual increases improving this salary very rapidly.
As pilots progress through their careers and earn additional designations and responsibilities, they can expect to continue to earn a higher salary. This includes going from co-pilot to captain, flying larger aircraft, and being paid more based on having more experience. As mentioned above, the top 10% of commercial pilots earn over $187,000 annually.
If being a pilot is something that appeals to you I would recommend you take the time to explore the career and see if it’s right for you. The job is a lot of hard work and responsibility but as you can see, an experienced commercial pilot will earn a great salary as they progress in their careers.
*this information is for those considering a career as a pilot and for informational purposes only. Data was researched from a variety of sources including the United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as other online resources.