Ultimate Pilot Pay Guide
A passion for flight drives many to aviation careers. But at the end of the day, a paycheck matters. Learn how much pilots make working for different types of airlines and operations.
How much do commercial pilots make?
Commercial pilots make an average of $82,240 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average Airline pilot salary nearly double, $140,340 annually.
Combined, the pilot annual salary is $115,670 per year. That means that, on average, a pilots salary per month is nearly $10,000.
Not bad, especially for doing something your passionate about. But, pilot salaries vary considerably based on the type of flying and the pilot's experience. The BLS data skims the surface of what you can earn as a commercial pilot. Keep reading to learn what pilots actually make doing different types of flying at various companies.
Major Airline Pilot Salary
You've heard of each Major Airline - they're household names. Those fortunate enough to fly for these behemoths of the aviation industry see among the highest airline pilot salaries.
We're focusing on base pilot pay today, but rest assured benefits bring the total compensation package at the majors much higher. Many even offer 401k match rates unheard of in other industries, with many matching 10%+ of the employee's contribution.
First officer's pilot salary at major airlines varies between $50,000 - $80,000 during their first year. First officer generally see a considerable salary jump during their second year of service, with many breaking six-figures.
Captain pilot pay ranges widely at major airlines. Less experienced captain's pay varies by air carrier, but expect between $100,000 - $200,000. At some airlines, captain pilot pay grows to that of doctors and lawyers, or nearly $300,000.
You'll see these airline pilot salaries expressed in pay bands. Pilots' actual pay will vary from person to person - depending on things such as aircraft type, overtime worked, and trip length. Some pilots fly more and make more, other pilots fly less and make less. Flying jumbo jets pays more than small regional jets. Your milage will vary.
Alaska Airlines Pilot Salary
Alaskan Airline first officers can expect to earn between $80,000 - $90,000 during their first year of service. As with most airlines, the co-pilot salary jumps significantly in the second year to $115,000 - $125,000.
As pilots gain experience, they'll eventually make the jump from the right seat to the left, upgrading to captain status in the process.
Alaskan Airline captains can expect to earn between $180,000 - $210,000 during their first year in the left seat. And, their pay doesn't stop there. Senior captains earn upwards of $250,000 annually.
Delta Pilot Salary
First officers at Delta airlines may not make as much as those at Alaska Airlines, but their pay isn't shabby. Delta's co-pilot pay is between $70,000 - $80,000 during their first year. Second year pay varies quite a bit based on aircraft type. First officers can expect to earn between $95,000 - $125,000 during their second year. They'll also see raises for every subsequent year of service.
Delta captain's salaries are much higher than first officer's - they pay captains the "big bucks." Depending on the aircraft type assigned, Delta Captains can expect to make between $180,000 - $250,000. Senior Delta wide-body captains earn even more, with some pulling down $300k or more annually.
Southwest Pilot Salary
Southwest Airlines pilot pay varies less than competitors, because Southwest flies one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737. This differentiated benefits the company's operational costs and simplifies their pilot compensation.
First officers at Southwest can expect to earn $70,000 - $80,000 during their first year. Their pay range jumps between $110,000 - $120,000 during the second year of service, continuing to rise for each subsequent year in the right seat.
When Southwest first officers move to the left seat captain, they can expect a handsome salary between $220,000 - $240,000. Southwest Airline captains salaries continue to grow with their years of experience, topping out around $300,000 per year.
American Airlines Pilot Salary
American Airlines' first officer pay is similar to others in the industry, with first officers earning $70,000 - $90,000 in their first year of service. Second year first officers make low-six figure salaries. American Airline pilot pay grows considerably when pilots upgrade from first officer to captain.
American Airline captain pay varies widely, even during the first few years in the left seat. Captain pilot salaries range from ~$150k on the low end to as high as $250k. This wide range of pay varies primarily on the type of aircraft flown.
United Airlines Pilot Salary
United Airlines first officer salaries vary between $70,000 - $80,000 during their first year. Like other major airlines, this number jumps considerably during their second year and varies based on the pilot's aircraft type assignment. Expect second year first officer United Airline pilot salaries from $105,000 - $140,000.
United Airlines pilot pay varies widely based on the aircraft type. Expect captains at United to make at least $200,000 - $250,000 during their first few years in the left seat of the flight deck.
Jet Blue Pilot Salary
First officer pilot salaries at Jet Blue initially range from $70,000 - $80,000. This jumps during the second year, earning pilots $80,000 - $100,000. Expect Jet Blue pilots to earn more for each subsequent year flying the right seat.
Jet Blue captain salaries range from $150,000 - $200,000. Their pay also increases with each year of flight. Busy senior captains regularly see salaries in excess of $210,000.
Frontier Pilot Salary
Frontier Airlines, a budget carrier, differs from other in the industry when it comes to pilot pay - they pay their pilots a flat pay regardless of the aircraft type being flown.
First officer pilot salaries at Frontier range from $50,000 - $65,000. Some pilots break the six figure threshold of copilot pay during their second year in the right seat.
Fronter Airlines captain pay is much higher, with most see between $160,000 - $180,000 during their first few years in the left seat. Like other airlines, senior pilots make more - often with total compensation well in excess of $200,000.
Spirit Airlines Pilot Salary
Spirit Airlines pays first officers similarly to Frontier. Spirit's first officer pay is around $50,000. Though, with some hustle some first officers may break closer to $60,000. Thing get better after the first year in the right seat, with copilot pay growing to between $90,000 - $120,000.
Captains at Spirit Airlines earn between $150,000 - $180,000. Some senior captains may be able to break the $200,000 mark, but it will take some hustle.
Allegiant Air Pilot Salary
Allegiant Air first officers can expect around $50,000 during their first year and between $80,000 - $90,000 during their second.
Captain pilot pay at Allegiant Air ranges widely based on the number of years spent flying in the left seat. Their captains expect to earn more as they gain experience, with most making between $130,000 - $190,000.
Regional Airline Pilot Salary
You won't find the same sky-high salaries at the regional airlines. Like major league sports players, pilots at the name brand airlines earn more.
For all the time, money, and energy spent training to become a commercial pilot, regional airline salaries appear low. But, every pilot has to start somewhere. Most pilots at major airlines have at least one or two regionals one their resume.
With so many regional airlines in the United States, we won't bore you with a complete list of pilot salaries for each. Instead, we highlight some of the most popular regional airlines that are currently hiring pilots with a fresh ATP certificate.
SkyWest Pilot Pay
First officers at SkyWest see salaries around $35,000 during their first year of service. During their second year, SkyWest first officers make closer to $40,000.
After hard earned flight time in the right seat, first officers upgrading to the captain's chair can expect to earn comfortable pay between $60,000 - $70,000.
Air Wisconsin Pilot Pay
Air Wisconsin's pilot pay is increasing with demand for skilled aviators. Although their first officers can expect a starting salary around $35,000, they're currently offering competitive starting bonus totaling over $55,000. Their pilots can expect to earn $260,000 - $317,000 during their first three years with the airline.
Endeavor Air Pilot Pay
Endeavor Air pays pilots more competitively than other regional airlines. First officers earn around $45,000 during there first year and $55,000 during their second. During the first few years, the total first officer Endeavor Air pilot pay is between $60,000 - $75,000.
Year three captain pilot pay jumps to a handsome $96.49 per flight hour for a base pay of around $87,000. With other compensation potential included, Endeavor Air pilots can expect to break into the six figures.
GoJet Pilot Pay
GoJet cites their first officer starting pay at a guaranteed $34,000 per year. First officers earn a small raise during each subsequent year in the right seat, but it isn't anything to write home about. Fortunately, GoJet airlines is expanding their fleet and growing quickly. Their first officers quickly upgrade to the captain seat.
The captain pilot salary at GoJet improves upon the first officer's pay. GoJet guarantees their captains around $63,000 per year as of this writing.
International Pilot Salary
Do you dream of getting paid to see the world and fly jets across oceans? International pilots are among the few pilots afforded the luxury of a scheduled cosmopolitan lifestyle. Some senior pilots flying international routes may fly only a few trips per month, given the time it takes to cross the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. While many of the above air carriers fly international routes, Emirates and Cathay Pacific are the two most prominent providers of international pilot jobs.
Emirates Pilot Pay
Although Emirates has total flight time minimums higher than than of many regional and legacy US airlines, flying on the otherside of the world is a great way to explore new places. And, you'll likely have the chance to make it back to the United States from time-to-time. Emirates flies to numerous major US cities, such as Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Dallas, New York, and Miami.
Emirates starting first officer pay is $60,000 - $75,000 per year, eventually topping out between $80,000 - $90,000 depending upon the number of hours works.
Emirates captains can expect to earn between $100,000 - $120,000 per year.
Living across the world comes with other perks. Emirates pilots are often provided free housing in company condos and enjoy upwards of 42 vacation days per year.
Cathay Pacific Pilot Salary
Cathay Pacific bases pilots in North America, Europe, and Australia. Their pilots earn a bit more than Emirates pilots.
Cathay Pacific first officers can expect to earn around $70,000 their first year. FO pay tops out between $100,000 - $110,000 depending upon the number of hours flown.
Cathay Pacific captains earn a cool $130,000 - $180,000 depending upon years of experience and the number of hours flown per year.
Cargo Pilot Salary
Do you dream of flying boxes in the sky? You're not alone. Cargo pilots have the benefit of their passengers being a little bit easier to get along with than the general flying public. After years grinding it out as a freight dog, cargo pilots earn a comfortable living flying for name brand freight carriers.
UPS Pilot Salary
UPS Pilots on average earn between $120,000 - $300,000. As with other carriers, years of experience and hours flown per year directly impacts take home pay.
FedEx Pilot Salary
FedEx Pilots earn between $105,000 - $380,000 per year. Years of experience play a major role in FexEx pilot compensation - senior captains bring home the big bucks while flying the schedule of their choice.
Corporate Pilot Salary
Corporate Pilot pay varies considerably from company to company. United States based corporate pilots can expect to earn between $45,000 - $120,000 per year depending upon years of experience and the type of aircraft flown.