Pilot Salary Guide & Career Outlook

The pilot salary shows different ranges depending on which country the pilot works in. Interestingly, the pay is high in U.S. dollars in places like the United Kingdom ($61,945), India ($17,470), and South Africa ($41,462) when there is typically a higher conversion rate in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United States, the median salary is $99,373 which hides the fact that beginner pilots start at a salary around $20,000.

The pilot salary is significantly affected by experience and airline. However, the industry and type of plane flown also impact their pay and how much does a pilot make.

How Much Does a Pilot Make per Year by Country?

Pilot Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Pay $83.00 C$37.00 ($39.49) E27.90 ($29.78) AU$22.00 ($16.93) NZ$40.86* ($29.48) Rs 564.23* ($8.40) R259.62* ($19.93)
Annual Pay $99,373 C$74,397 ($56,893) E58,037 ($61,945) AU$60,444 ($46,506) NZ$85,000 ($61,318) Rs 1,173,602 ($17,470) R540,000 ($41,462)

*These figures are estimated based on the other pay information given. This assumes a 40 hour work week.

make a pilot salary

Pilot Salary Influencing Factors

The type of airplane flown will impact the pilot salary ranges seen below. In particular, within Payscale the search for pilot resulted in the categories of “airline pilot, copilot, or flight engineer”, “helicopter pilot”, and “commercial pilot”. All of the salary ranges described come from the “airline pilot, copilot, or flight engineer” with the exception of Australia which uses data from “commercial pilot”.

1. Location

How Much Does a Pilot Make in the US?

The pilot salary in the United States ranges from $39,398 to $212,296. Additional money can come from a bonus up to $27,575 and a profit share up to $31,172. Hourly, they earn from $33.00 to $201.91 with overtime skyrocketing to $312.07 an hour. In sum, they earn $41,664 to $257,634.

How Much Does a Pilot Make in Canada?

Pilots working in Canada will see a salary of C$35,110 to C$142,249 with a bonus of C$96.96 to C$10,365 and profit sharing which stretches to a maximum reported value of C$10,101. From an hourly perspective, they see a rate of C$15.32 to C$70.39. Tips are reported to add C$12.50 an hour. Totally, they earn an income ranging from C$35,233 to C$146,274.

How Much Does a Pilot Make in the UK?

Annually, the pilot salary in the United Kingdom is E32,012 to E102,117. The estimated hourly rate is $15.39 to $49.09. Their income can be increased through bonuses of E14,544 and profit sharing of E2,000. When all of these figures are combined, the total reported salary is E36,973 to E104,290.

How Much Does a Pilot Make in Australia?

The 10th percentile of earners in Australia see an annual salary of AU$40,123 and the 90th percentile see a salary of AU137,046. Hourly, this equates to a rate of AU$19.28 to AU$65.88 dollars. Overtime rates are reported to be AU$115.00. In Australia profit sharing is reported at higher rates than bonuses with the profit share being AU$28,283 and the bonus being AU$2,750. Their comprehensive salary is AU$39,592 to AU$175,669.

How Much Does a Pilot Make in New Zealand?

The reported data for pilots in New Zealand show a median salary of NZ$60,000 and an average salary of NZ$85,000. The discrepancy between these two numbers can be attributed to outliers that affect the total average and skew it higher than the median. There is no other reported data for these pilots.

How Much Does a Pilot Make in India?

The salary range for pilots in India is large with the lower number being Rs 195,743 and the higher end being Rs 3,676,629. Bonuses of Rs 250,000 and profit sharing of Rs 91,563 are sometimes reported. However, these extra sources of income must be earned by individuals in the middle of the pay spectrum because they do not raise either the lower final salary of Rs 195,743 or the higher final salary of Rs 3,676,629.

How Much Does a Pilot Make in South Africa?

The airline pilot salary in South Africa is R187,627 to R1,069,050. Bonuses with a range of R19,797 to R197,265 are seen with a profit share of R10,174. In summary, their total salary is R202,197 to R1,078,908. This shows that the bonuses and profit share have a positive impact on the final salary.

2. Experience

Pilots in the United States see a steady increase in their pay as they gain more years of experience while those in the United Kingdom see a flat salary for the first 15-20 years. However, when they have more than 20 years their salary increases rapidly from $120,000 to $200,000 and from E70,000 to E100,000. A commercial pilot salary in South Africa is 33 percent above the median when they have more than 20 years of experience and 19 percent below when they are entry-level. In India, the salary difference between entry-level and mid-career pilots is 85 percent. The pay in Canada increases for the first 5 years, plateaus, and then increases sharply when more than 20 years of experience is accumulated.

It is important to know the years of experience that the pilots have who submit their data to Payscale as this is an important factor in the salary. In Canada, the pie chart indicating experience is spit very evenly. The only underrepresented group is less than 1 year of experience at 4 percent. The highest category in the United States is 20 years or more of experience. In the United Kingdom, it is 10-19 years of experience. When looking at South Africa, the most frequent entry comes from those with 5-9 years of experience. Finally, India and Australia-based pilots are the least experienced group at 1-4 years.

3. Industry

Once a pilot achieves the level of captain, they will typically see significant salary increases. Airline pilots are in an industry that has a mandated retirement age in the United States. Federal law mandates that they retire when they turn 65. Most airline pilots work for scheduled air transportation through recognized airliners such as American Airways, Qantas, or Austrian Airlines. For commercial pilots, the most common industry is nonscheduled air transportation at 32 percent, then technical schools at 11 percent, support for air transportation and ambulance services, both at 7 percent.

Non-commercial pilots with less experience will often work on branch airlines of the major airline. For example, new pilots with American Airlines with fly the American Eagle line of planes before progressing to the suite of larger American Airlines planes. These pilots see a higher median pay than commercial pilots with the first group seeing a median salary of $117,290 and the second seeing income of $102,520 dollars.

Schedule & Working Hours

Being an airline pilot seems exciting, and often it is. However, they also have to work long hours and work through fatigue. This is particularly true for international flights. Pilots also work in a closed environment and need to be comfortable with sitting for extended periods of time.

Their work schedule is regulated by federal guidelines. The average pilot logs 75 hours of flight time a month and spends the remainder of their time completing other tasks. Their schedule is variable and, generally, those with the most experience get the preferred flights.

Pilots have to spend a lot of time away from home and often have to stay in a hotel for overnight flights. They have some days off, but there is no routine or structure to the days they have off.

Bonuses & Benefits

Airline pilots see a lot of perks that other professionals do not. In addition to very good medical coverage and ample vacation time, they get to travel the world for their job. Because they spend so many nights away from home, the airline will pay for their hotel, taxi or rental car, and provide them with a meal stipend to use when they are traveling.

Another perk is that the immediate family of the pilot will see free or significantly-reduced airfare. If the pilots are flying on an international flight, their per diem meal exchange rate should increase. All of these additional benefits are essential because new pilots only make about $20,000 a year until they gain the experience to be able to fly with the title of captain.

The table below shows the healthcare by country. Notice that there is very good healthcare coverage across the board for pilots.

Country United States Canada United Kingdom Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Medical 89 86 75 67 100 60
Dental 71 81 13 33 50 20
Vision 63 75 21 11 50 20
None 8 14 25 33 0 40

Career Outlook

Although pilots have very important jobs in our global society, they work for companies that are constantly looking to reduce expenses and increase profits and that impacts the pilot career. Therefore, their job growth is projected to be 5 percent through the year 2024. Two ways that airlines do this are through reconfiguration of the seating pattern so that more people can be seated on one plan and elimination of routes that are not busy.
However, commercial pilots will see faster than average job growth at 10 percent through the year 2024. There will be increased demand for pilots who can make medical trips. However, this also comes with a risk because these pilots regularly have to fly in dangerous weather.

Regardless of the country, flying is a male dominated profession. Interestingly, the countries with the highest proportion of male pilots are the United States and Canada at 99 and 91 percent, respectively. In India and South Africa, 66 percent of pilots are male, while in Australia that number checks in at 71 percent.

Conclusion

The pilot career is very exciting and essential in our economy. Without them, our world would not operate the way that it does now. However, they are not always rewarded for this due to the nature of the industry. Once pilots gain a certain level of experience and skills, their salary increases quickly. But for new pilots, they get paid slightly above what is considered poverty range in the United States. If you like operating complex equipment and flying around the world, then investing time into finding out all about the different pilot jobs that exist is a worthy endeavor. You may need to get along and work well with flight attendants, so keep in mind that people skills shouldn’t be out of the question.

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