How Much Money Does a Pilot Make: An In-Depth Guide to Commercial Pilot Earnings


Have you ever wondered how much money a pilot makes? Whether you’re considering a career as a commercial pilot or just curious, understanding a pilot’s earnings is crucial for making informed decisions. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that determine a pilot’s salary, how much they earn at different airlines, and the benefits and compensation packages that pilots receive.

5 Factors That Determine a Commercial Pilot’s Salary

There are several factors that determine a commercial pilot’s salary, including experience, type of airline, aircraft type, location, and seniority. Experience and seniority are the most important factors, as they directly affect a pilot’s pay.

The type of airline a pilot works for also plays a role in their earnings. Major airlines typically pay higher salaries than regional airlines, as major airlines require more experience and expertise. Aircraft type is another factor that impacts a pilot’s earnings. More complicated planes require more training and expertise, which can lead to higher pay.

The location of the airline also impacts the salary of a pilot. Airlines operating in larger, more expensive cities often pay more to attract and retain pilots. Finally, seniority is an important factor in determining a pilot’s salary. As a pilot gains seniority, they gain higher status and better pay.

Inside the Earnings of a Commercial Airline Pilot

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for commercial airline pilots in the United States is $121,430. However, this number can vary widely depending on the previously mentioned factors.

Regional airline pilots typically earn less than major airline pilots because they often have less experience and fly smaller aircraft. Regional airline pilots make an average of $56,000 to $68,000 a year, while major airline pilots make an average of $150,000 a year.

From Rookie to Captain: A Pilot’s Journey to Higher Pay

A commercial pilot’s career path typically starts with obtaining a license and accumulating flight hours. Many pilots begin their careers by flying for regional airlines or by working as flight instructors. As they gain the necessary experience, they may move up to larger airlines or transition to flying larger aircraft.

As pilots gain experience and accumulate flight hours, they can become captains and earn higher salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paid airline pilots can make more than $208,000 per year.

Understanding the Compensation and Benefits of a Commercial Pilot

In addition to their salaries, commercial pilots receive various compensation and benefits. Airlines often offer bonuses, retirement plans, health insurance, and travel privileges to their pilots.

However, it’s worth noting that different airlines may offer different compensation and benefits packages. For example, major airlines typically offer better benefits and compensation packages than regional airlines.

Breaking Down the Numbers: How Much Can You Make as a Pilot?

The exact amount that a pilot makes depends on their experience, seniority, type of airline, and location. According to data from Glassdoor, the average salary for a pilot in the United States is $117,290 per year. However, salaries can range from $30,000 to $207,000 per year depending on the airline and location.

For example, a pilot for Delta Air Lines with 10 years of experience and a captain position can earn a maximum of $265,000 per year. Meanwhile, a pilot for Horizon Air in Seattle can earn up to $80,000 per year.


In conclusion, a pilot’s earnings depend on various factors, including experience, location, type of airline, and seniority. While the median annual salary for a commercial airline pilot is $121,430, salaries can vary widely depending on the airline and location. Pilots at major airlines typically earn more than pilots at regional airlines, and compensation and benefits packages can also differ. If you’re considering a career as a pilot, it’s important to research different airlines and their compensation packages to make an informed decision.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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