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ATP Pilots Employment and Salaries

ATP Pilots Employment and SalariesPilots aren’t paid like any other hourly worker in other professions and for that reason airline pilot salaries are probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of the profession when discussed by the non-flying public. Despite the fact that professional pilots work 8, 10, 12 hour+ days just like any other professional, they are only compensated for the time considered “in flight.” For most flying jobs, unless it’s a salaried position, that usually means that they are paid from when the parking brake is released at the departure point until the brake is set upon arrival at the destination.

The law says that pilots who work for an airline cannot fly more than 100 hours a month or more than 1,000 hours a year. Most airline pilots fly about 75 hours a month, and work another 75 hours a month at other parts of the job. When they are flying, airline pilots often stay away from home overnight. Airlines have flights at all hours of the day and night. This means that airline pilots are often asked to work odd hours.

Pilot pay is something the general public often has a lot of misconceptions about. The general ‘glamorization’ of the career leads many people to think that airline pilots make $250-300K+ a year and that they work two weeks or less a month. While there are a select few captains at the major carriers with 25+ years of tenure may have a life close to that, they are by far the minority. According to the Air Line Pilots Association, their average major* airline member Captain is 50 years old, with 18 years seniority and makes $182,000 a year. A non-major airline Captain is 41 years old with 10 years of seniority and makes $70,000 a year. The average ALPA First Officer member at a major airline is 43 years old with 10 years of seniority and makes $121,000 per year, while an ALPA non major First Officer is age 35 with 3 years of service and makes $33,000.

*A major airline is a carrier with more than a billion in sales annually. American, Delta, Northwest, United, Continental, US Airways, Southwest, Alaska (and even several ‘regional’ carriers) are considered majors by that definition. However, not all major carriers pilots are members of the ALPA union, notably AA & SWA who have their own in house unions.

Factors affecting pilot pay:
  • Time with the company (seniority)
  • Aircraft flown
  • Whether they are a Captain or First Officer (seat)
  • The hours in their monthly schedule
  • The pay scale at their specific airline

A pilots pay is figured upon the hourly rate for their seat and their equipment based upon the pay grade for their seniority. Each company also has a set ‘minimum guarantee’ flight hour pay in their pilot contract. This is generally about 75 hours per month but varies slightly by airline. (A few majors guarantee is only 65!) However, in no case will the pilot earn less than the ‘minimum guarantee’ every month. They may fly less than 75 actual flight hours, but they will still be paid for the 75 per their guarantee. If they get a flight schedule that is scheduled for more flight hours than the minimum guarantee, they will then get paid for the greater amount of time flown instead, plus “per diem”. Flight crew make about $1-3 per hour in ‘per diem’ for every hour they are away from their domicile on a trip to cover expenses. This generally adds a few hundred dollars to their pay check. Source

Employment of Commercial Pilots May 2012 Statistics

USA Map, source Bureau Of Labor Statistics
Commercial Pilot Employment

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:

States with Highest Employment

Airline Pilot Training Programs At Aviator Flight Training Academy
  • 160 hours Multi-Engine
  • Professional Pilot Program
  • 259 Flight Hours
  • Ground School Class Pre& Post Flight Ground
  • Training in a College Campus Atmosphere
  • Single Engine Private Pilot
  • Private Multi-Engine
  • Single-Engine Instrument
  • Multi-Engine Instrument
  • Multi-Engine Commercial
  • Single Engine Commercial
  • Multi-Engine Flight Instructor
  • Instrument Flight Instructor
  • Single Engine Flight Instructor

Aircraft for check rides
Cross Country flying coast-to-coast
No FTDs (Simulators) used towards flight time
*CRJ Jet Transition Program
Pilot Career Planning & Interviewing Class

6 Months of housing $52,785.00
6 Months of Housing is Included
Subtract -$6,100.00 if you hold a Private Pilot Certificate: $46,035.00
6 Months of Housing is Included


Additional fees* : books, written, checkrides, headset approx .$ 6,440.00

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