How Much Do Pilots Make?

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Two of the most envied job holders in the aviation industry are pilots and flight attendants. Although there is a demand for a flight attendant job, a pilot’s job is preferable.  

People have different reasons for choosing a pilot career path in the airline industry.

Some take this path for the love of flying planes, and a few take up this job as it allows them to travel to different places. For others, the pilot job is a great source for earning good salaries and enjoying other benefits.

When speaking of airline pilot salaries, the aviation industry offers commercial pilots excellent salary packages. Since commercial airline pilots have a highly unique set of skills, they are paid well.

The U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics in the Occupational Outlook Handbook mentions the annual median salary or annual average pilot salary for commercial pilots operating commercial airlines in 2021 was $99,640. In 2021, the median annual wage of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $202,180.

Besides earning annual salaries, the pilots are offered other benefits including health benefits, expense allowance, and their immediate families are entitled to free or reasonable air travel. They are also made part of the company’s retirement plans.

The airlines also take care of hotel accommodations, food bills, and other expenses when they are performing duties away from home.

If you’re looking to start your pilot career and want to know how much pilots make, the following questions give detailed information on how much airline pilots earn.

How Much Do Pilots Make Per Flight?

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The pilots are paid an hourly rate for each flight hour flown. According to Federal Aviation Administration, airline pilots can’t fly more than 1000 flight hours in a year.

For example, a junior pilot working for regional airlines in the US starts out making $20 to $50 per hour. The pilot earns around $20,000 to $40,000 per year subject to the type of aircraft he/she flies, experience, and other factors.

On the other hand, experienced pilots can earn more than $100 per hour.

How Much Do Pilots Make An Hour?

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A pilot’s salary is calculated based on the number of hours the pilot has flown. 

At a flight training school, a certified flight instructor can expect an hourly wage from $25 to $50.

For regional airlines, the hourly rate for new pilots can go from $20 to $50. On the other hand, an experienced pilot can earn approximately $130 an hour.

For pilots working for major airlines like United Airlines, the hourly pay rates range between $91 and $352. A senior captain working for United Airlines earns anywhere around $351 per hour whereas a junior first officer working with the airline earns around $91.

An experienced captain working for Delta major airlines can expect to earn $354 per hour whereas a junior first officer can earn around $92 per hour.

How Much Do Pilots Make A Month?

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The monthly salary of a pilot depends on the seniority and the type of airline he is working with.

A captain working with major airlines in the US can earn a monthly salary starting from $20,000 and as they gain experience they earn more. A first officer working with major airlines can earn a monthly salary starting from $7,000 and with experience, he/she can earn much more.

A captain working with regional airlines in the US can earn a monthly salary starting from $5,000 whereas a first officer earns a monthly salary starting from $3,000.   

How Much Do Pilots Make Starting Out?

Here are the approximate first-year annual salaries of an airline pilot after completing 1000 hours of flight hours. 

Captain Salaries For Major Airlines

  • A captain working for Southwest Airlines, in the first year, he/she can earn $241,000. Monthly, the captain can earn around $20,083.
  • A captain working for a major carrier airline like American Airlines, in the first year, he/she can earn $255,000. Monthly, the captain can earn around $21,250.

First Officer Salaries For Major Airlines

  • A first officer working for Southwest Airlines, in the first year earns around $84,000. Monthly, the junior first officer can earn around $7,000.
  • A first officer working for American Airlines, in the first year earns around $90,000. Monthly, the first officer can earn around $7,500.

Captain And First Officer Salaries For Regional Airlines

  • A captain working for Air Wisconsin Airlines, in the first year earns $71,000 approximately. Monthly, the captain can earn around $5,916. 
  • On the other hand, the first officer working for the same airline, in the first year earns $37,000 approximately. Monthly, the first officer can earn around $3,083.

How Much Do Pilots Make In Texas?

The salaries of airline pilots vary based on the region from where they are operating. In a state like Texas, the average airline pilot salary can be around $138,500 per year.

In Texas, a pilot’s salary range can start from $26,500 and can reach up to $380,500. It depends on various factors like skills, employer, and the most important factor which is experience.

How Much Do Pilots Make In California?

As of August 2022, the airline pilot’s salary in California is $161,401. That said the salary range usually falls between $139,801 and $182,201.

The salary range depends on various factors like the city, education, additional skills, certifications, the number of years spent in the profession and many more.

Commercial Pilot Salary 2022

As of 2022, commercial pilots on average can make $94,000 annually or around $45 per hour in the United States. The pilots who are on the bottom end of the spectrum i.e. the bottom 10% make around $63,000 a year whereas the top 10% earn roughly $139,000.

Location is the keyword that determines the salary a commercial pilot can expect to make. Places like California, New York, Texas, and New Jersey offer commercial pilots better pay.

Is It Worth It To Become A Pilot In 2022?

Yes, it is worth becoming a pilot. The reason is the Bureau Of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of airline pilots will grow by 5% through 2029.

The institution points out that the retiring pilots is one of the reasons which will create airline jobs throughout this period.

That said, determining what kind of pilot you want to become is necessary. You can become a private pilot, commercial pilot or airline transport pilot.

After deciding this, you need to earn the pilot license. Research and select a good flight school that gives you appropriate training to earn the license.

Here are some of the perks that come with becoming a pilot. But perks vary depending on the airlines.

  • Some airlines offer discounted air tickets for the pilot and their immediate family.
  • Airlines offer health benefits that include dental and vision insurance.
  • They offer generous retirement plans to pilots.
  • Excellent wages.

FAQs Relating To “How Much Pilots Make”

How Much Do Pilots Make Starting Out?

Airlines are segregated into regional and major airlines.

Regional airlines are smaller airlines that operate planes typically carrying passengers between 50 and 75. Examples of regional airlines include Envoy Air, Skywest, Republic, and others.

Let’s take Envoy Air as an example and see how much the airline pays new hire pilots. A pilot in his/her first year at Envoy Air can expect a salary of $118,050 per year.

When it comes to major airlines in the United States Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines are some of the famous airlines. New hire pilot at Delta Airlines is given a salary of around $100,840 in their first year of employment.

What Type Of Pilot Makes The Most Money?

Airline pilots make the most money in the US compared to other pilot specializations such as tourist pilots, rescue pilots, and others. That said, there is a stark difference between the salaries of pilots hired by regional airlines and that of international and major airlines.

How Much Does A Pilot Earn?

The pilots in the US are paid hourly. 

A pilot who works for regional airlines starts out making $20 to $50 per hour. As they get experience, the rates increase.

On the other hand, pilots who work for major airlines earn more than regional airlines. 

A first officer at Delta Airlines starts out at $70 per hour in the first year. After ten years, the officer at Delta Airlines can earn more than $151 per hour.

A charter pilot in the United States can earn an average hourly wage of $38. The salary typically ranges between $33 and $43.

What Is The Highest Paying Airline For Pilots?

There are many airlines that pay a good amount of salary to pilots. In the United States Of America, the Southwest Airlines is considered to be the highest-paying airline for pilots. 

The airline was established in San Antonio, Texas in the year 1967, and it is reported that the airlines offer the highest pilot salary in the world. Pilots at Southwest Airlines can earn up to $603,282 annually.  

Next comes airlines such as JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

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