Pilot Salaries

Ever wonder how much money pilots make? Well the answer is: It depends!

Pilots typically aren't salaried per se, rather, they make money whenever the aircraft's engine is running. How much money a pilot makes depends on what type of company they work for, be it an airline, corporation, charter company, or flight school.

Many pilots work as flight instructors for a few years to build their hours, and then go on to work for an airline. According to glassdoor.com, the average flight instructor makes $34,392 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for airline pilots and copilots is $137,330.

Keep in mind that these numbers are averages. Airline pilot pay is primarily based on seniority, so at the peak of an airline pilot's career, the pilot will likely make much more than the average. To give you some examples, according to airlinepilotcentral.com, a first year pilot at Delta Air Lines makes $68 per hour, however a 10 year 747 captain makes $259 per hour. With a guaranteed monthly minimum of 65 hours, that's $202,020 per year (at least!). Similarly, a 15 year captain at UPS makes $254,664 per year!

Typically, before a pilot can work at a major airline such as Delta or United, they must first work for a regional airline. Regional airlines don't pay as well, however most pilots only work for them long enough to build their hours for the major airlines. A first year pilot at CommutAir (a common place for BGSU Aviation graduates to go) is paid $27,000 per year. However, the pay goes up very rapidly from there. A captain who flies a Dash-8 Q300 and has been working for CommutAir for only 3 years makes $49,500 per year. By the 5th or 6th year, it is likely that you will have enough flight time to go work for a major airline, and start making the kind of money discussed previously.