Becoming a pilot is one of the most lucrative and rewarding career for those who possess a nerve for adventure. With the growing commercialization and the expanding global aviation sector, the demand for airline pilots is increasing with every passing day. This trend is expected to gain momentum in the times to come.
A pilot’s job covets only perfect professionals. The nature of pilot’s job is both tough and rewarding A pilot is responsible for many other lives that are traveling on his board and for the costly machinery he drives.
There are various options and career paths for a pilot. One can choose to fly commercially for airlines and carry passengers, or may fly a cargo plane, search-and-rescue aircraft, crop duster, or tour/sightseeing flights. They might also work as flight instructors to train future pilots, and can earn handsome salaries. Whatever may be the driving factor but there is no denial that being a pilot is the one of the most adventurous and highly paid salaries careers.

Factors that Influence Pilot Salary

Flight crews of airlines are among highly paid professions around the globe, they are quite expensive specialists in the aviation market. Because of high salaries the pilot’s profession is quite attractive for young professionals around the world and specially United States of America (USA). How much commercial airline pilots are paid depends on different factors, though the main factor is typically seniority of the flight crew. Salary is also highly dependent on whether a pilot is a captain or first officer. Pilots who have high volume of flying hours and have flown for the same company for many years, tend to make more than entry level pilots.
Other factors such as the airline he works in, the routes that are flown, and the number of hours flown each month. The salary depends largely on what type of aircraft the pilot controls. A pilot of a small aircraft (single engine) paid a relatively small salary, a pilot of a wide body aircrafts is paid maximum salaries. This is because control of these aircraft requires the maximum qualifications and experience.
There are many different industries that a commercial pilot works in, each of which offers varying levels of salaries. Some industries pay better than others, and some individual companies also have significantly higher or lower levels of pay. Commercial pilots who work for passenger airlines tend to make less than those who work for cargo airlines, though there are exceptions. There are also many other industries that employ commercial pilots, such as private air charter companies and medical transport services, each of which has its own independent pilot salaries.

How Much Do Pilots Make a Year?

A commercial pilot in the U.S. can make on average $175,000 salary. There are pilots working in aviation industry especially in major airlines earn more than $300,000 per year. There are so
many factors influencing airline pilot salaries, it’s important to look at different perspectives and examples to have a real image of how much do pilots make a year. How much do pilots make a year is a simple question. Salaries vary if you’re with a major airline or regional airline, or you are the Captain of aircraft or First Officer/co-pilot. The factors that determine the average salary of a Commercial Pilot in U.S include the type of industry, location, and the Commercial Pilot’s experience.

Pilot Salaries

If you search salary of a commercial pilot on internet you will find that commercial pilots are among top professions who earn the most. Pilots are paid according to the hours they had logged in and flew the aircrafts. As per the 2009 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, airline pilots can only fly up to 80 hours per month or 1,000 hours per year. Important factors in determining pilot salary depend on seniority, type or size of the aircraft, and whether you are a Captain or First Officer. More importantly it depends on what type of company you work for, be it a regional airline or a major airline. In the aviation industry there are regional airlines, low-cost carriers, national carriers, major airlines, and legacy airlines. The pilot salaries at each of these categories, are vastly different.

Regional Airlines

A regional airline flies smaller aircraft carrying between 19 to 80 seats. A regional airline may fly on short routes on smaller airplanes like the Cessna 402, CRJ200 or the ATR42. These fly passengers to and from small and mid-sized airports. They also ferry passengers to major airports, where connecting flights on larger planes await.
Regional airline pilots are usually working toward becoming a pilot for a major airline. Major airlines require more flight hours and experience from pilots than by regional airlines. Average regional airlines salaries according to the latest employment information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are as:

  • Regional airline pilot salary range is $48,000 to 115,000.
  • Regional airline Captain salary range is $90,000 to 115,000
  • Regional airline First Officer salary range is $48,000 to 60,000

Regional airlines give annual bonuses to pilots to attract them due to pilot shortage in the industry. Bonuses vary from airline to airline and also depend on pilot experience. These bonuses may be in the form of money, health insurance, and may be free travel for family members.

Major Airlines

Major Airlines are the main focus of the airline industry. Major airlines fly large planes such as the B737, B777, B787 and B747. These airlines generate more than $1-billion in revenue annually. Typically, these airlines hire a large volume of employees with handsome salaries packages. Major airlines pay pilots a higher salary than regional airlines do, so working for a major airline is the way to go to earn a higher paycheck.

  • Major airline pilot salary range is $75,000 to 300,000
  • Major airline Captain salary range is $180,000- 320.000
  • Major airline First Officer salary range is $75,000-165,000

The above mentioned figures are averages and taken from Professional Pilot Magazine Pro Pilot Compensation Salary Study 2020. A commercial pilot salary is primarily based on seniority, the
routes, and the type of aircraft flown. At the peak of an airline pilot’s career, the pilot will likely make much more than the average.

How is Pilot Salary Calculated?

Airline pilots are paid by the hour they flown. According to Federal law airline pilots are to fly no more than 1,000 hours per year. This is to ensure they are well rested and ready to fly each time they enter the cockpit for the purpose of safety.
Main factors that determine an airline pilot salary are:

  • Education level
  • Experience
  • Aircraft type
  • Airline (Regional or major)
  • Routes (long haul or short haul)
  • Captain or First Officer
  • Seniority in company

Considering all these factors a pilot salary is calculated.

How to become a commercial pilot?

Before commencing training for Commercial Pilot License (CPL) the following requirements should meet:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old.
  • You need to be physically fit and have a second class medical certificate from FAA approved AME.
  • Proficient in the English language.
  • To have at least a Private Pilot License (PPL).

Private Pilot License:

After getting the medical certificate the first step in becoming a commercial pilot is to earn a PPL at a flight school. Starting in a single-engine airplane, this stage of training focuses on the fundamentals and sets the foundation for more advanced certificates and ratings.
You’ll learn about the basics of principle of flight, aircraft operation, communication with air traffic control, and essential maneuvers such as takeoffs, landings, climbs, descents, and turns. Navigation is also an essential part of the curriculum.
Requirements for PPL are:

  • 40 Hours total flight time (20 hours with an instructor and 10 hours solo)
  • A written Test
  • Check ride

After flying 40 hours and pass both tests, you’ll get PPL from FAA.

Procedure for Commercial Pilot License:

Requirements for CPL are:

  • 250 hours total flying time:

100 hours as Pilot in command;

50 hours cross-country;

10 hours of instrument flying;

10 hours in a complex aircraft;

  • Cross country flights during day and night
  • Written test
  • Check ride

The final step before you get the CPL is passing the exams. Expect both exam parts to be more demanding than the exam you took to get your PPL. After all, you’re proving that you have the skills, knowledge, and attitude to be a professional pilot — an important job that demands a high degree of safety. If you are passionate about aviation industry and love all things related to aircrafts? Do you dream of becoming a commercial pilot? Want to learn to fly as a passion and pursue a career as a commercial pilot in US? Then you’re just a click away.

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