New data reveals that a young American pilot starting out in today’s market can potentially earn $7 million over the next 44 years, assuming they make the right career moves along the way. Coast Flight projects that a 21-year-old aviator starting out as a flight instructor, following the school’s Airline Career Training (ACT) program, may be able to earn $7 million by the time they’re 65, assuming they follow the suggested path to a position as Captain for a major airline. Of course, salaries for airline pilots can vary widely based on factors such as experience, schooling, and the airline they are working for. When you look at the facts, though, there’s no denying that career aviators stand to earn a great deal of money in a job they love if they can go the distance. In the following post, we explain more about how pilots are paid, and how to get the most out of this rewarding career.
Encouraging Projections from Delta and SkyWest
Coast Flight’s Airline Career Training program is unique because it provides conditional job placement at SkyWest Airlines for the elite student pilots accepted into its ranks. According to PilotJobs.com, a First Officer at SkyWest Airlines may earn approximately $28,400 their first year, but by their fifth year they could be earning as much as $48,880. And if they are promoted to Captain in their sixth year, they could see this salary increase to as much as $81,520, which will continue increasing exponentially as their career advances. Moving on to a major airline such as Delta is recommended, though. Starting pay for a Delta Airlines 737-800 Pilot is $66,000. Upon promotion to Captain, though, Delta pilots earn a starting pay of $189,000. The top pay for a Delta Airlines Captain is approximately $205,000, but those flying a Boeing 777 can potentially earn $298,500 per year plus bonuses, or as much as $350,000 in one year.
Going the Distance Pays Off
These figures may seem confusing, and if you’ve tried to do your own research on aviation salaries, you may be even more confused, as starting and ending pay for airline pilots varies so much. Each company pays its pilots differently, and since pilots are paid hourly the salary depends on how many hours one works in a year. There are wide variances between the pay for regional airline pilots and the pay for major airline pilots as well. According to figures from The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for airline pilots is $114,200, but starting pay for a regional airline First Officer could be as little as $28,000, while ending pay for a major airline Captain could be several hundred thousand per year. What this shows, however, is that going the distance pays off in the field of commercial aviation. Airline pilots have the potential to earn some of the top salaries in today’s job market, but it takes a few years to get there.
A Suggested Path for Career Pilots
Coast Flight’s ACT program is designed to give graduates a clear path to a career as an airline pilot, with job placement at regional SkyWest Airlines following the completion of their training in school and job experience as a flight instructor. After two years in flight instruction, pilots are ready to begin their placement as a First Officer for SkyWest Airlines. Three years later, the same pilot should be qualified to move up to a position of Captain for SkyWest. Ultimately, however, a pilot must take their years of experience at a regional airline to a position at a major airline to make the most out of this career. So, pilots are encouraged to move on to a position of First Officer for Coast’s partners at Delta Airlines by the end of their first decade in the field, which could potentially translate to a position as a Delta Airlines Captain some eight or so years later.
It all depends on the skill, discipline, hard work, and tenacity of the pilot, of course. But assuming that you have what it takes, you could start out making less than $30,000 a year as a flight instructor and end up making well over $200,000 a year by the time you retire from a major airline.