Real Answers from Real Pilots

Entry guy

Hi everyone! I’ve been reading the forums and see a lot of information here! Thank you all so much for adding to it. I’m a 35 year old in Tennessee who is considering getting a commercial license to fly. I’ve always loved flying and I’m half way through my ppl. Can anyone give me a solid estimate as to how much I would be able to earn Year one, and year two. I’m obviously not looking to get rich but I have 4 kids and a wife to support. I’m doing fine now financially and don’t want to stress that but I do want to chase my dreams.

Kyle,

Chris wrote a nice piece on this a while back which will give you a good overview (What Do Pilots Really Earn?)
The good news is in just the last year (due to the pilot shortage) salaries have continued to rise, particularly for the first couple of years at the Regionals. Current first year pay at most Regionals is approx. $38-40k plus most are offering hiring and retention bonuses which can add approx. another $20k(or more) to that first year making the transition somewhat easier. The salary will remain in the $40s until upgrade then you’ll be in the $65-70k range. Keep in mind however before you can get hired you’ll need to build the required 1500hrs. The most common method is flight instructing which will take another 1.5-2yrs and you’ll probably be earning in the mid-upper $20k. Many of the Regionals however offer Tuition Reimbursement during that time to help with the student loan payments (if you have any) but depending on the Regional that may or may not come off your hiring bonus. Hope that helps some?

Adam

Thanks ADam! Really good information from you and his article! I’m curious is there any other way to log 1500 besides teaching others to fly? Can you go overseas and log hours or can you rent a jet and do dual tasks like teach and fly on off hours?

Kyle,

Overseas companies want experienced pilots, too. Sometimes the requirements are even higher overseas. Renting a jet would be prohibitively expensive.

Chris

Kyle,

There are other low time flying jobs out there (banner tow, traffic watch, light cargo or charter) but they can often be difficult you find and generally don’t pay very well because they’re all entry level positions. As far as going oversees Europe has very strict licensing and tight with permit rules and Asia, while they pay well are generally looking for pilots with more experience than here in the U.S. Hence the reason most pilots instruct. There’s also the fact that instructing will improve your skills and knowledge as a pilot vs most other avenues.

Adam