How much does a pilot earn?

How much does a pilot earn?

Airline pilots often embody the allure of a glamorous, high-paying career. They shoulder the responsibility of guiding aircraft safely through the skies while ensuring the well-being of passengers. Nevertheless, their salaries are often shrouded in mystery. In this blog, we will discover how much pilots earn and discuss some frequently asked questions about their compensation.


What’s the Average Income for Airline Pilots? 

The average salary of an airline pilot can vary widely based on factors like experience, the type of aircraft they fly, and their employer. The average national salary (in the UK) is £44k. An entry pilot can expect to earn around 25k to 28k a year, while a senior captain can earn up to £100k a year – this can be as much as £170k for long-haul pilots. 

Do Pilots Out-Earn Other Professions? 

Pilots typically earn more than many other occupations, often surpassing the national average wage. It’s important to note though, that becoming an airline pilot entails extensive training, experience, and a substantial educational investment.

How Are Pilots Compensated – Fixed Salary or Per Flight? 

Most airline pilots receive compensation based on an hourly rate or an annual salary. However, they often receive additional pay for factors like flight hours, international routes, and overnight stays.

Does Experience Translate to Higher Earnings? 

Absolutely, as pilots gain experience and log more flight hours, their earnings generally increase. Many airlines have structured pay scales that reward seniority and experience.

What Additional Benefits Do Airline Pilots Enjoy? 

Airline pilots typically receive a range of benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and travel perks. They often get discounted or complimentary flights for themselves and their immediate families.

Do Pilots Get Bonuses? 

Certain airlines offer performance-based bonuses to their pilots. These bonuses may be granted for outstanding performance, meeting specific operational targets, or flying during peak periods.

Does Aircraft Type Impact Salaries? 

Indeed, the type of aircraft a pilot operates can influence their salary. Pilots flying larger or specialised aircraft, such as cargo planes or private jets, tend to earn more than those handling smaller commercial planes.

Are There Regional Variations in Pilot Salaries? 

Yes, pilot salaries can differ based on the region or country of employment. Factors like cost of living, pilot demand, and local regulations play a role in determining salary levels.

Do Major Airlines Offer Higher Salaries? 

In general, pilots employed by major airlines tend to receive more competitive salaries than those at regional or smaller carriers. Larger airlines often have greater resources and revenue, enabling them to offer better compensation packages.

How Does Experience Level Impact Earnings? 

Pilot experience significantly influences their income. As they accumulate flight hours and gain experience in various aircraft, they become more valuable to airlines, resulting in higher salaries and improved job prospects.

Are There Gender Disparities in Pilot Salaries? 

Regrettably, like many professions, the aviation industry has historically experienced gender pay disparities. However, ongoing efforts aim to rectify this issue, with some airlines actively striving to close the gender pay gap.

Can Pilots Generate Extra Income? 

Some pilots opt to supplement their income through freelance or contract flying jobs, working as flight instructors, or providing consulting services within the aviation sector.

Do Economic Downturns Affect Pilot Salaries? 

During economic downturns or crises, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, airlines may implement cost-cutting measures that can temporarily impact pilot salaries. However, pilots are generally regarded as essential personnel, and their incomes tend to stabilise as the industry recovers.

Are There Paths to Career Advancement and Higher Salaries? 

Certainly, the aviation industry offers various avenues for career progression. Pilots can advance to become captains, training instructors, or transition into management roles within the airline sector. With added responsibilities and experience, higher incomes often follow.


In summary, airline pilots can earn substantial salaries that reflect the demanding nature of their profession. While the average salary for airline pilots exceeds the national average, it’s crucial to acknowledge the extensive training, experience, and investment required to become a pilot. Moreover, factors like experience, aircraft type, and employer can influence a pilot’s earnings.