You would be among 68,350 commercial pilots and assistants employed in the United States if you chose this career, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your job would primarily include transporting vacationers and business people to their destinations. In the process, you would check the functionality of all engines and systems, and then manage the flight controls while communicating with airport personnel. Salaries vary according to experience, employer size and geographic location.
Average Salary & Benefits
You can earn that six-figure income you so desire working as a commercial pilot. The average income for these itinerant professionals was $118,070 per year, according to the BLS. The top 25 percent made over $140,650 annually. The lowest 10 percent earned salaries under $57,420 per year. Your benefits as a full time worker would likely include health and life insurance, vacation and sick leave, reduced fares for yourself and family and living allowances when you are away from home.
Salary by State
Expect to earn the most as a commercial pilot based in Hawaii and New York. These folks earned $146,040 and $145,080 per year, respectively, according to the BLS. You would also earn a relatively high annual income in Texas and Florida at $137,430 and $133,880, respectively. Your pay in Illinois would be closer to the national average at $119,340 per year. And you'd earn significantly less in Utah -- $91,580 annually.
Qualifications, Education and Training
You need to be at least 18 and have a high school diploma to commence studying for your commercial pilot's license. From there, your options include flight school or getting a two- or four-year degree in aviation or aeronautical engineering. Post graduate training includes six or eight weeks of hands-on experience, according to the BLS. Commercial pilots are required to have at least 250 hours of flying before obtaining a license. And, you would need to re-certify that license once or twice per year.
The BLS reports that the number of jobs for commercial pilots is expected to increase 11 percent between 2010 and 2012. This rate of growth compares to the an average growth rate of 14 percent for all U.S. jobs. Commercial pilot jobs will be spurred by an increase in travel, especially as the economy improves. However, there will be some retrenchment in the industry as airline companies merge with others.
2018 Salary Information for Airline and Commercial Pilots
Airline and commercial pilots earned a median annual salary of $140,340 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, airline and commercial pilots earned a 10th percentile salary of $77,450, meaning 90 percent earned more than this amount. The 90th percentile salary is $166,140, meaning 10 percent earn more. In 2018, 124,300 people were employed in the U.S. as airline and commercial pilots.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Airline and Commercial Pilots
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
- StateUniversity.com: Airplane Pilot Job Description, Career as an Airplane Pilot, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
- EducationPortal.com: Be an Airline Pilot: Education Requirements and Career Info
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Airline and Commercial Pilots
- Career Trend: Airline and Commercial Pilots
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images