Making a career of it
Both Private and Commercial licenses are required for all career paths listed in the table below. Additional license and/or ratings are required as indicated (x).
|Aerial survey|| ||x|| |
|Air cargo (non-airline)|| ||x||x|
|Agricultural|| ||x|| |
and air cargo)
|Banner towing|| ||x|| |
|Charter|| || ||x|
|Aircraft sales|| ||x|| |
|Flight instructor|| ||x|| |
|Glider towing|| || || |
|Emergency medical|| ||x||x|
|Government (state)|| ||x||x|
|Law enforcement|| ||x|| |
|Parachute dropper|| || || |
|Pilot examiner|| ||x||x|
Anyone who seeks to become a career fixed-wing
pilot can expect to spend between $60,000-$85,000. Those who seek to become a career rotary-wing
pilot can expect to spend between $85,000-$120,000. The estimated expenses are based upon a person going from Private Pilot through Certified Flight Instructor Instruments.
Career pilot earnings
Like all career pathways, there are many levels of compensation based on a pilot’s experience, type of aircraft flown, and aviation industry segment. The following estimated annual earnings are provided for general information.
|Career path||Annual salary range|
$50,000 - $100,000
$50,000 - $300,000
|Air freight pilot||$50,000 - $300,000|
|Certified flight instructor||$40,000 - $80,000|
|Charter pilot||$40,000 - $150,000|
|Corporate pilot||$40,000 - $200,000|
|Emergency medical pilot||$60,000 - $100,000|
|Military pilot||$60,000 - $100,000|
Do you need a college degree to fly for an airline?
Years ago, airline pilot applicants were required to have a college degree. Today, the regional airlines hire pilots to become First Officers (co-pilots) without a college degree. None-the-less, it is highly recommended that pilots who seek any career which requires flying an aircraft secure some type of college degree.
The reason is simple. If at some point in time, a pilot cannot qualify for the FAA Part 67 Medical Certificate, they are no longer permitted to operate an aircraft for compensation. Having a fallback career is important if and when this would happen. The degree can be in any variety of categories. This will help the pilot continue to earn a living if they can no longer fly for a career.