Airline Pilot’s Return on Investment

Airline Pilot’s Return on Investment

Pilot's Return on Investment InfographicThere are many reasons why people become pilots. These reasons are often rooted in some childhood dream, or an innate desire to travel, or the sheer joy of taking flight, or a desire to lead and take care of others. Training to become a professional pilot is certainly one of the most respected, challenging, action-packed and fulfilling career paths a person can take. There are other considerations you need to make before choosing a career and investing in your education, though. Most people must also factor in the cost of their education and the potential salary they could earn once they enter their career field. Fortunately for pilots, the return on investment is excellent compared to other industries. Just consider how the ROI for professional pilots’ education and training matches up to that of other esteemed professionals including teachers, doctor and lawyers.

Total Cost of Education

In order to enter a revered profession such as teaching, legal counsel, medicine or aviation, you must first complete a high level of postsecondary education. The length of time that students must spend in an accredited university and/or training program, and the cost of doing so, inevitably varies depending on the professional career they are preparing for. While all of these professions require about the same level of undergraduate education, that is where the similarities end. Just consider the national averages for the cost of required education to become a teacher, pilot, lawyer and doctor:

Teachers:

• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = N/A

Pilots:

• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = $51,900

Lawyers:

• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = $55,416

Doctors:

• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = $232,564

Median Annual Salary

Of the four honorable professions under the spotlight, it’s easy to see that teachers spend the least on their postsecondary education. This is because many teaching jobs in elementary, middle or high schools only require a bachelor’s degree (although some K-12 teaching jobs require a master’s degree, and all postsecondary teaching jobs require at least a master’s degree). And with an average total education cost of $87,032 for teachers, $138,932 for pilots, $142,488 for lawyers and $319,596 for doctors, it’s clear that doctors spend the most (by a landslide). What really matters, though, is the potential returns for this initial investment in education and training. Consider the median annual salaries for teachers, pilots, lawyers and doctors in the United States:

Teachers:

• median annual salary = $49,140

Pilots:

• median annual salary = $111,680

Lawyers:

• median annual salary = $110,590

Doctors:

• median annual salary = $186,044

Return on Investment

What this all means is that of these four career paths, pilots enjoy the greatest return on investment. It’s important to consider that teachers typically have 43 career earning years, pilots typically have 42, lawyers typically have 40, and doctors typically have 34. So if you figure the return on investment for each career, which is ((annual salary × years in career) – education costs), and divide that by the education costs, you will find the following:

• Teachers earn $23 for every $1 invested in education
• Pilots earn $33 for every $1 invested in education
• Lawyers earn $30 for every $1 invested in education
• Doctors earn $19 for every $1 invested in education

In addition to the great return on investment in the aviation field, the high median annual salary for aviation graduates allows them to pay off their education costs more quickly than these other skilled professionals as they move up in their careers. This economic freedom enables pilots to enjoy the things they love about their careers, from adventure and travel to responsibility and respect, without as much worry.