how much does a pilot make

How Much Does A Pilot Make

Piloting is a highly skilled profession, and becoming a pilot requires significant investment of time, effort and money. However, the rewards of being a pilot are significant, not just in terms of job satisfaction, but also in terms of financial remuneration. In this article, we will explore how much pilots make, how salaries are determined, and what factors affect pilot income.

Firstly, it is important to note that there are several different types of pilots, each with their own specific job duties and salary ranges. For example, commercial airline pilots make significantly more than private pilots or crop duster pilots. Therefore, when discussing pilot salaries, it is important to consider the specific type of pilot being referred to.

Commercial Airline Pilots

Commercial airline pilots are responsible for flying passengers and cargo to various destinations, and are typically employed by large airlines such as Delta, American Airlines and United. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers was $147,220 as of May 2020. This means that half of all pilots earned more than this amount, while half earned less.

However, it is worth noting that salaries for commercial airline pilots can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as the airline they work for, their level of experience and the type of aircraft they fly. Starting salaries for commercial airline pilots can be as low as $70,000 per year, while experienced pilots at major airlines can earn well over $300,000 per year.

In addition, commercial airline pilots are often eligible for a range of benefits and perks, such as health insurance, retirement plans and travel benefits. These benefits can add significant value to a pilot’s overall compensation package.

Private Pilots

Private pilots fly smaller aircraft, such as small planes, helicopters and business jets. They may be employed by private companies, wealthy individuals or government agencies. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for commercial pilots was $84,510 as of May 2020. This figure reflects the fact that private pilots generally earn less than commercial airline pilots, although there is still significant variation within this group.

Factors that can impact a private pilot’s salary include their level of experience, the type of aircraft they fly, and whether they work full-time or part-time. Private pilots who work for corporations or wealthy individuals may earn more than those who work for smaller operators or government agencies.

Crop Duster Pilots

Crop duster pilots are responsible for applying pesticides and fertilizers to crops using small planes or helicopters. This is a highly specialized type of piloting that requires a unique set of skills and expertise. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for agricultural pilots was $64,180 as of May 2020.

However, crop duster pilots often work on a seasonal basis, and may not have full-time employment. In addition, the nature of their work can be hazardous and physically demanding, which can impact their earning potential.

Factors That Impact Pilot Salaries

There are several factors that can impact a pilot’s salary, regardless of their specific job title or employer. These factors include:

Experience: Pilots with more experience generally earn higher salaries than those who are just starting out. This is because experienced pilots are often more knowledgeable and skilled, and can command higher wages as a result.

Type of aircraft: Pilots who fly larger, more complex aircraft generally earn more than those who fly smaller planes or helicopters. This is because larger aircraft require more skill and expertise to operate safely.

Employer: The airline or company a pilot works for can have a significant impact on their salary. Major airlines generally pay their pilots more than smaller regional airlines or charter companies.

Location: Salaries for pilots can vary depending on the location they work in. For example, pilots who work for airlines based in major cities may earn more than those who work for smaller regional airlines.


In conclusion, pilots can earn highly competitive salaries, particularly those who work for commercial airlines. However, pilot salaries can vary widely depending on a range of factors, including the type of aircraft they fly, their level of experience and the employer they work for. If you are considering a career as a pilot, it is important to do your research and understand the factors that can impact your earning potential.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *