Pilot Salary Potential
Major Airline and Cargo Operations
When people think pilot career and pilot salary, they generally think of working for major carriers like United, Delta, Southwest, UPS or Fedex. This is because these are the highest paying pilot careers with the most flexible schedules. These operations typically run similar to the regional airlines, but they fly much larger jets. By flying larger jets, pilots are better compensated and with better work life balance.
- Pay: The range varies significantly based on seniority and aircraft but can be anywhere from $65-$150k within the first 5 years and can increase to upwards of $300k
- Schedule: Pilots generally fly 3-4 day trips with around 12-15 days off per month. In the largest jets, the trips are usually international and transoceanic.
- Location: Pilots are assigned to domiciles which are the bases from which flight trips begin and end. Airline pilots have travel benefits and therefore can fly for free so many choose to live elsewhere and commute to their assigned domiciles.
Mean Annual Salary for Airline Pilots and Copilots in the U.S.
- 2019: $174,870
- 2018: $169,560
- 2017: $161,280
- 2016: $152,770
*Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics