Introduction to how much do pilots make an hour

The profession of a pilot is often associated with glamour, travel, and a handsome paycheck. Yet, the question, “How much do pilots make an hour?” can indeed elicit a spectrum of answers, as various factors influence a pilot’s income. In 2024, the aviation industry has seen a significant transformation, and this has, in turn, impacted pilot salaries.

To answer the question, ‘How much do pilots make an hour?’, it is imperative to delve into the components that make up a pilot’s remuneration. Not only does their salary reflect their expertise and the responsibilities they shoulder, but it also mirrors the health of the aviation sector. The pilot’s earning potential is a topic that interests both aviation enthusiasts and those considering a career in the skies.

‘How much do pilots make an hour?’, have long been a topic of intrigue and speculation. As we venture into this comprehensive guide, we will explore not only the numerical figures but also the underlying elements that contribute to a pilot’s earnings. From commercial to private and military pilots, each has a unique earning structure, reflective of their distinct roles within the industry.

How much do pilots make an hour: Factors Influencing Salaries

When it comes to the question how much do pilots make an hour, several factors come into play, determining the variation in their hourly rates. Firstly, the level of experience is paramount. Pilots with years of flight under their belts are often better compensated than those just starting. This is due to the increase in trust and reliability that comes with experience.

Secondly, the type of aircraft flown can greatly influence a pilot’s pay. Pilots operating larger, more complex aircraft are typically better rewarded due to the additional training and skill required. Similarly, the airline or company a pilot works for can be a determinant in their salary, with major airlines often offering higher pay scales than regional carriers.

Lastly, geographical location plays a significant role in answering the question how much do pilots make an hour. Pilots working in metropolitan areas or hubs of major airlines may enjoy higher wages due to the higher cost of living and the concentration of flight operations. These factors, among others, create a diverse landscape of pilot salaries, making it a subject worth exploring in depth.

how much do pilots make an hour: Breakdown of Salaries

The year 2024 has brought about a detailed breakdown of pilot salaries, reflecting current trends and economic factors. To paint a clearer picture, we must consider the average hourly rate alongside the broader salary range within the profession. Salaries have been influenced by the increasing demand for air travel, technological advancements, and economic shifts.

The pilot’s position within the hierarchy of the airline also plays a fundamental role. For instance, a captain’s earnings significantly surpass those of a first officer, reflecting their greater responsibility and seniority. Furthermore, contractual agreements and union negotiations have shaped the salary structures, offering pilots various pay scales based on seniority, type of service, and flight hours.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the aviation industry, understanding these components is crucial for an accurate assessment of pilot salaries. It sets the stage for a detailed exploration of the hourly earnings across different sectors within the piloting profession.

How much do pilots make an hour: Commercial pilots

The average hourly rates for commercial pilots vary based on several factors, including the airline’s size and reputation, the type of aircraft flown, and the pilot’s position within the company. Here are the key points to consider:

Hourly Rate Determinants

The hourly rate for commercial pilots is influenced by factors such as their rank, experience, and the type of aircraft they operate. Hourly rates generally increase as pilots gain more experience within the airline and as they transition to larger, more complex aircraft.

Company seniority and pay increases after each year the pilot has worked for the airline. First officers start with first year pay and then climb in pay rates each subsequent year with the company. Captains earn the captain pay for the year they upgrade to captain.

Additional Pay Opportunities

Most pilots fly about 75 hours per month and are paid per diem to reimburse for food and beverage expenses incurred on the road. On average, pilots can add around $7,000 per year to their annual salary to reflect per diem.

Average Annual Earnings for Commercial Pilots

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers is $211,790. The reported annual salary for commercial pilots is $103,910. Considering these factors, the average hourly rates for commercial pilots can range from approximately $93 per hour for a first-year first officer to $191 per hour for a captain with 12 years of experience, with potential for additional pay through per diems and other benefits.

How much do pilots make an hour? Private pilots

Private pilots, who predominantly fly for corporations or wealthy individuals, find themselves in a different earning bracket compared to their commercial counterparts. Their hourly rate is influenced by the exclusivity and personalization of the service they provide.

The type of aircraft a private pilot flies can significantly affect their salary, with those certified to fly jets generally earning more than those flying propeller-driven planes. Their clientele’s nature, whether corporate executives or celebrities, can also dictate the pay scale, as demand for discretion and flexibility is higher.

Private pilots may not have the same structured salary as commercial pilots, but they often enjoy other financial benefits, such as bonuses for availability and performance. The intimate nature of private flying also allows for a closer relationship with employers, potentially leading to more personalized compensation arrangements.

Hourly Earnings for Private Pilots

The average hourly pay for a Weekend Private Pilot in the United States is $62.94, with wages ranging between $48.08 to $74.52. However, hourly wages can be as high as $96.63 or as low as $23.80. The average hourly pay for a Weekend Private Pilot in Chicago, IL is $65, which is $1.90 more than the national average.

The top 10 highest paying cities for Weekend Private Pilots include Berkeley, CA with an average hourly wage of $76.20, New York City, NY with $73.27, and Renton, WA with $73.05, among others. These cities offer salaries above the national average, indicating lucrative opportunities for economic advancement.

Private jet pilot salaries can vary widely based on factors such as experience, employer, and location. Here are the general salary ranges for private jet pilots at different career stages:

Entry-Level Pilot Salaries: $50,000 to $80,000 per year
Mid-Career Pilot Salaries: $80,000 to $150,000 per year
Senior-Level Pilot Salaries: $200,000 to $300,000 per year or more, especially for those with specialized skills or working for elite clients.

The type of aircraft, the employer, and the geographic location also play significant roles in determining private pilot salaries. For instance, pilots with more experience or those flying larger, more complex jets may earn higher salaries, while those working for prestigious employers may command higher pay compared to those in smaller charter companies.

Private pilots, who predominantly fly for corporations or wealthy individuals, earn varying hourly rates influenced by factors such as the type of aircraft, the nature of their clientele, and the potential for financial benefits beyond structured salaries. These factors contribute to a wide range of earnings for private pilots.

How much do pilots make an hour? Military pilots

Military pilots serve in a different realm, where their compensation is not just a reflection of their skill but also their commitment to national service. Their hourly pay is determined by military rank, years of service, and the type of aircraft they specialize in flying.

Unlike their civilian counterparts, military pilots receive a salary that is part of a comprehensive military pay structure. This includes base pay, along with allowances for housing, subsistence, and hazardous duty. Special pay for flight duties and imminent danger can also augment their earnings.

While military pilots may not earn as much per hour as some commercial pilots, the benefits package, including comprehensive healthcare, retirement plans, and education benefits, can make a military aviation career financially attractive. The sense of duty and honor in serving their country also adds immeasurable value to their career choice.

Benefits and drawbacks of being a pilot

The life of a pilot comes with a unique set of benefits and drawbacks that can affect personal and professional satisfaction. Pilots enjoy the thrill of flight, the opportunity to travel, and a sense of prestige. The career also offers a structured pathway for growth, with clear ranks and positions that come with increased responsibility and financial rewards.

However, pilots often face irregular work hours, time away from home, and the stress of ensuring passenger safety. The physical demands of the job, including the need to maintain a certain level of fitness and the toll of jet lag, can be significant. Moreover, the initial training and education required to become a pilot represent a substantial investment of time and money.

The balance between these benefits and drawbacks varies among individuals, with some finding the challenges an acceptable trade-off for the joys of flying. Others may weigh the drawbacks more heavily, considering alternative career paths that offer a different lifestyle.

How much do pilots make an hour: Comparison with other professions

When comparing pilot salaries to other professions, it’s essential to consider the level of expertise, education, and responsibility inherent to each role. Pilots are often well-compensated, reflecting the significant training and skills required to ensure the safety of their passengers and the aircraft.

Pilot salaries continue to be competitive with those in other professional fields, such as engineering, law, and medicine. However, the path to becoming a pilot is distinct, with a focus on specialized training and certifications rather than traditional academic degrees. The investment in becoming a pilot can be high, but the potential financial rewards are commensurate with the costs.

The job security and benefits associated with being a pilot can also surpass those in other professions, particularly within the commercial and military sectors. This combination of competitive compensation, benefits, and job security makes piloting an attractive career option for many.

How much do pilots make an hour: Steps to becoming a pilot

For those aspiring to the skies, the journey to becoming a pilot is structured yet demanding. The first step is obtaining a Private Pilot License (PPL), which involves a combination of ground school and flight training. Following this, a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) is necessary to fly commercially and receive compensation for flying.

Advanced training for specific aircraft types, instrument ratings, and multi-engine certifications further enhance a pilot’s qualifications. For those aiming for the airlines, an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) is the pinnacle certification, requiring significant flight experience and passing rigorous written and practical exams.

The path also demands continuous learning and adaptation, as pilots must stay abreast of the latest technologies and regulations in aviation. The commitment to ongoing education and training is a cornerstone of the profession, ensuring that pilots maintain the highest standards of safety and proficiency.


The financial aspects, as explored in the context of how much pilots make an hour, are certainly appealing. Pilot salaries remain competitive, and the career offers a substantial return on investment, particularly in commercial and private aviation.

Beyond the monetary rewards, the career of a pilot offers intangible benefits such as the joy of flying, the camaraderie among crew members, and the opportunity to explore the world. The challenges, including the rigorous training and the demands of the job, are significant but often viewed as worthwhile by those with a passion for aviation.

Contact the Florida Flyers Flight Academy Team today at (904) 209-3510 to learn more about the Private Pilot Ground School Course.