How much is Pilot Pay These Days? We've Got the Numbers

How much is Pilot Pay These Days? We've Got the Numbers

Have you ever been curious how much pilot pay is? If so, we've got your answer. Take a look at what pilots make for a living. Read on for more information.

If you're a pilot, chances are you love what you do.

If you're looking to become a pilot, it's probably because you're passionate about flying the friendly skies. Not to become a millionaire.

But that doesn't mean you want to work for free.

Whether you've just gotten your pilot's license and are looking for employment or you're a seasoned veteran, it's smart to know how much a pilot's pay is.

so if you've ever been curious about how much pilot pay is, grab a cup of coffee and settle in. You're about to find out.

When It Comes to Pilot Pay, Are All Pilots the Same?

There is actually a fair amount of variety when it comes to being a pilot.

There's also different skill levels to consider.

And the amount of time you've spent working as a pilot. And what kind of a pilot you are.

You could be a:

  • Pilot
  • Co-pilot
  • Flight Engineer

It also depends whether you work on an hourly or salaried basis.

Can the Type of Aircraft Affect Pilot Pay?

Yes. Depending upon what kind of aircraft you pilot, and what your role is, your salary will be affected.

You could fly:

  • Corporate Jets
  • Corporate Non-Jets
  • Commercial Aircraft
  • Commercial Jets
  • Airline Pilot
  • Helicopter Pilot

For large jets, the median pay is $121,408.

For small jets, the median pay is $104,219.

Non-jet aircraft pilot's make far less than their jet flying counterparts.

For large non-jet aircraft's the median pay is $79,106.

Pilot's also have to undergo different types of training depending on the type of aircraft the are certified to fly. 

Can Other Factors Affect Pilot Pay?

Yes. There are actually quite a few factors that come into play with it comes to determining how much pay you can expect.

Factors such as:

  • Location: Depending on what city your hub is in will greatly affect how much pay you receive
  • Company Pay: Each company pays their own salaries to employees based on a number of internal criteria. United Airlines may pay more to their co-pilots than UPS might. It's important to check with each individual company to see how their pay rates differ.
  • Experience: Experience has everything to do with a pilot's pay. 

What is a Typical Starting Salary for Pilot Pay?

Again, it may vary depending upon location, etc but a regional pilot might make anywhere from $20-$50 per hour.

While that may seem fantastic, there's a lot of unpaid downtimes that pilot's experience.

Often pilot's are only paid for time that's considered "in flight". This means you'd only get paid when the parking gear isn't in the brake position.

Check to make sure whether your position is salaried or not.

However, the average pilot can log around 75 hours per month in the air.

And around 150 hours working on:

  • Simulator Training
  • Maintaining Records
  • Performing Pre-Flight Inspections
  • Flight Planning
  • Travel (from hotels to airports)

You can also expect a pay stipend during the training period.

And of course, there's a per diem that's given to pilot's when traveling to cover the costs of meals and incidentals.

How Does a Pilot's Pay Increase?

It's important to understand that each company has its own set of guidelines on how a pilot is paid.

However, there are several general guidelines most adhere to:

  • Most airlines offer a yearly raise
  • The biggest increase in salary is often seen within the first 5 years
  • This increase tends to be larger for first officers than captains
  • The largest increase is usually seen after the 1-year probationary period ends
  • Most first officers become captains after a few years of experience

Here are some comparisons:

Delta Airlines: Starting salary for a first officer of a Boeing 737 is $86 per hour. Based on a 65 hour monthly guarantee this equates to a base salary of $67,080. Add in per diem and the 16% defined retirement contribution and a new-hire FO at Delta can easily make over $80k.

After 10 years at Delta, that same employee can expect to earn $201 per hour or over $180,000 per year base pay including retirement.

For an airline captain at Delta, starting salary is $227 per hour and they can expect to earn as much as $372 per hour by year 12 on the largest equipment. Senior widebody captains can make upwards of $400,000 per year.

As one can expect, regional airlines will pay less than an international airline.

At regional airline Island Air, a first officer starting out can expect to earn $43 per hour. 

By year 5, they can expect to earn $58 per hour. Meanwhile, an Island Air captain can expect to earn $67 per hour their first year and $97 per hour by year 5. 

What Does the Future Look Like for a Pilot?

If you're looking to become a pilot, now is a great time.

The airline industry is experiencing a pilot shortage. By 2026 the airline industry is expecting a 15,000 pilot deficit.

But there are also reasons for that.

Let's take a look:

  • More pilots aging out. The age of retirement is 65. 
  • Fewer newcomers to the industry: As more pilots retire, there are less young people interested in pursuing a career as a pilot.
  • Flight training is costly: In 2013 flight hours were increased by sixfold

Luckily the airline industry is taking notice and doing something about it.

The pilot shortage is costing some airlines to go bankrupt or to consolidate with other airlines.

So the airlines are now realizing they need to be more proactive in finding and retaining pilots. 

Here's what's happening in the airline industry:

  • Major airlines are expected to hire around 5,000 new pilots
  • Major airlines will look for those pilots from regional carriers, the military and flight schools.
  • They're dropping the amount of time it takes between interviewing and an actual job offer
  • They're reducing certain certification requirements that can be costly for the pilot in training
  • They use "flow-through" agreements to find new pilots. This means if you're a regional pilot but work for an airline owned by a larger affiliate, you may be able to jump into a larger position within that larger carrier.
  • Signing bonuses: Airlines are using bonuses to help attract and retain pilots. A signing bonus at the larger carriers can range anywhere from $15,000 to $23,000.

For anyone looking to become a pilot, now is a great time to enter a training program.

The airline industry is actively looking to hire the best and the brightest so if you think you've got what it takes, read on.

We're here to provide all the information you need to find a career as a pilot.