The Average Salary of a Pilot

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The Average Salary of a Pilot

The average salary of airline and commercial pilots is $102,520.

The job of an airline pilot has a certain glamour to it, between the uniforms and the extensive traveling. But is the compensation for airline pilots as high as people think it is, and does it make up for the sleep deprivation? Let’s take a look at the data on the average salary of a pilot and where pilots earn the most. 

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The Average Salary of a Pilot

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of the group the BLS calls airline and commercial pilots was $102,520 per year in 2015. The BLS also tracks the job outlook for the careers it studies, measuring how many jobs the career will add between 2014 and 2024. The BLS job outlook for Airline and Commercial Pilots is 5%, which is about as fast as the average across all careers. The BLS predicts that the U.S. will add 119,200 airline and commercial pilots between 2014 and 2024.

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Where Pilots Earn the Most

When it comes to tracking state- and city-level earnings data, the BLS looks at commercial pilots and “airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers” separately. Let’s take a look at where commercial pilots earn the most.

The mean annual wage for commercial pilots is $84,510 per year. According to BLS data, the top-paying state for commercial pilots is Connecticut, where commercial pilots earn a mean annual wage of $116,960. Other high-paying states for commercial pilots are Delaware, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania. The top-paying metro area for commercial pilots is Santa Rosa, CA, where the annual mean wage for commercial pilots is $135,820. Other high-paying metro areas for commercial pilots are Philadelphia, PA; Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA and Savannah, GA.

Now let’s take a look at where airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers earn the most. First, we should say that airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers made SmartAsset’s 2016 list of the Top 10 Jobs for Salary and Growth. The top-paying state in this field is Texas, with a mean annual wage of $189,860. Other high-paying states for this profession are Colorado, Florida, California and Illinois. Of the metro areas for which the BLS has data, the top-paying metro area for airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers is Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX, with a mean annual wage of $201,100. Other high-paying metro areas for this field are Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO; Fort Worth-Arlington, TX; Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL  and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV.

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Bottom Line

Have you ever flown out of an airport and wondered what it would be like to be a pilot? With an average annual salary of $102,520, pilots earn a good living. Not just anyone can become a pilot, however. Commercial pilots must earn a commercial pilot certificate, while airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers must earn the Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for the specific aircraft type they fly. Being a pilot is also a dangerous job, so it’s not surprising that pilots’ compensation is high.

Photo credit: ©, © Ammentorp Lund, ©

Amelia Josephson
Amelia Josephson is a staff writer covering financial literacy topics at SmartAsset. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.

The Average Salary of a Pilot

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