Airline Pilot Salary in Every State

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 26, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated October 26, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

Working as an airline pilot can be an exciting job that allows for plenty of travel. It also comes with generous benefits and excellent pay. Learning what airline pilots make can help you decide if pursuing this profession would be right for you.

In this article, we will see how much airline pilots make, what their job responsibilities are, the job outlook for airline pilots and how they can increase their salaries.

How much do airline pilots make?

The common salary in the U.S. for airline pilots is $78,948 per year. Airline pilot salaries can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Education level

  • Location

  • Airline

  • Aircraft type

  • Years of flight experience

  • Seniority level in the airline

Job outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 6% job growth for airline pilots in the 2018 to 2028 period. The positive job outlook is because of a growing demand for airline pilots in the airline sector. The 2009 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations require pilots to fly fewer hours, rest more between flights and spend more hours in flight training.

The FAA regulations also require pilots to retire at age 65. Due to this, major and regional airlines now have fewer pilots to man their flights and must hire new people to fill in for the resting and the retiring pilots. To get experienced candidates, airlines are willing to offer competitive pay packages and benefits.

Highest airline pilot salaries by state

For those wondering how much do airline pilots make by state, airline pilot salaries can vary considerably according to where they operate. Here are the average salaries for each state:

  • Alabama: $88,199 per year

  • Alaska: $82,524 per year

  • Arizona: $75,417 per year

  • Arkansas: $118,430 per year

  • California: $77,888 per year

  • Colorado: $55,037 per year

  • Connecticut: $99,425 per year

  • Delaware: $64,461 per year

  • Florida: $80,236 per year

  • Georgia: $86,533 per year

  • Hawaii: $72,045 per year

  • Idaho: $92,753 per year

  • Illinois: $88,502 per year

  • Indiana: $62,109 per year

  • Iowa: $62,916 per year

  • Kansas: $59,727 per year

  • Kentucky: $53,123 per year

  • Louisiana: $62,262 per year

  • Maine: $43,640 per year

  • Maryland: $92,755 per year

  • Massachusetts: $51,875 per year

  • Michigan: $41,038 per year

  • Minnesota: $49,067 per year

  • Mississippi: $83,675 per year

  • Missouri: $73,282 per year

  • Montana: $59,318 per year

  • Nebraska: $61,917 per year

  • Nevada: $88,613 per year

  • New Hampshire: $59,236 per year

  • New Jersey: $70,619 per year

  • New Mexico: $85,614 per year

  • New York: $90,972 per year

  • North Carolina: $93,161 per year

  • North Dakota: $63,526 per year

  • Ohio: $74,838 per year

  • Oklahoma: $80,246 per year

  • Oregon: $71,109 per year

  • Pennsylvania: $77,066 per year

  • Rhode Island: $64,520 per year

  • South Carolina: $82,392 per year

  • South Dakota: $60,751 per year

  • Tennessee: $42,806 per year

  • Texas: $82,230 per year

  • Utah: $72,264 per year

  • Vermont: $62,356 per year

  • Virginia: $75,620 per year

  • Washington: $76,182 per year

  • West Virginia: $24,772 per year

  • Wisconsin: $61,667 per year

  • Wyoming: $61,538 per year

*Some salary details taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently asked questions about the salary of airline pilots

Here are some frequently asked questions to help those who are thinking about becoming an airline pilot:

  • Do airline pilots get hourly or monthly payment?

  • Are airline pilot salaries dependent on the type of aircraft they fly?

  • What are the typical work hours of airline pilots?

  • What educational credentials are necessary for airline pilots?

  • Do airline pilots receive on-the-job training?

  • Is it easy to find work as an airline pilot?

Do airline pilots get hourly or monthly payment?

Airline pilots receive hourly pay for each flight hour they log and a per diem allowance that covers the airline pilot's incidental expenses, meals and overnight hotel stays. Some airlines may offer airline pilots a work guarantee of flying a minimum number of flight hours per month. With this, they can expect to fly for a specified duration per month for that airline and earn a steady minimum income.

Related: Salary vs. Hourly Pay: What Are the Differences?

Are airline pilot salaries dependent on the type of aircraft they fly?

Yes. Airline pilots who fly legacy jet air carriers receive the highest hourly pay. It is comparatively lower for non-jet airplanes. The difference is owing to the different types of training that airline pilots must undergo to fly these planes. They receive different aircraft-type rating licenses for flying jet planes and non-jet planes.

What are the typical work hours of airline pilots?

Most airline pilots have variable work timings, with new pilots having to remain on reserve status and be ready to fly at short notice. As per the 2009 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, airline pilots can only fly up to 80 hours per month or 1,000 hours per year. It is to prevent pilot fatigue that could lead to accidents. Apart from their flight hours, airline pilots may also put in up to 150 hours of other work-related duties every month. These can include the following:

  • Participating in simulator training

  • Inspecting their aircraft before and after the flight

  • Making sure that the fuel tank is full

  • Checking weather conditions

  • Maintaining accurate flight records

  • Planning the flight and submitting these plans to air traffic control

Airline pilots often have overnight layovers between flights, and some portion of their time goes into traveling back and forth from hotels to airports.

What educational credentials are necessary for airline pilots?

Airline pilots must have a bachelor's degree in any discipline as well as a commercial pilot's license and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, many airline pilots start as commercial pilots, the requirement for which is a high school diploma or a GCE.

They usually do their flight training with an independent FAA-certified flight instructor or at a flight training school. After passing a medical examination, written exams and practical flight tests, they can earn a student pilot certificate, a private pilot license and instrument rating. To earn a commercial pilot's license, they must log a minimum of 500 flight hours and pass a written exam and flight test.

The next step is earning a multi-engine rating, which also requires passing written and flight tests. They can then earn the ATP certificate after logging in over 1,500 flight hours and passing another written exam and flight test. To qualify to fly for regional or major airlines, they will also need to get a degree.

After obtaining the ATP certification, airline pilots must maintain it by undergoing medical tests and flight exams at regular intervals. Experienced military pilots can fly for regional or major airlines by switching over to civil aviation.

Do airline pilots receive on-the-job training?

As per Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), newly hired airline pilots must undergo a mandatory six to eight weeks of on-the-job training at a ground school. They can fly for the airlines only after they complete this training and earn the necessary rating for the aircraft that they are to fly for their employers.

Related: What Is On-the-Job Training?

Is it easy to find work as an airline pilot?

Since there is a shortage of pilots, it should not be difficult for experienced and qualified pilots to find work. They may be able to negotiate a higher hourly wage and a more expansive per diem allowance.

How to increase an airline pilot salary

To increase their salaries, airline pilots can take the following steps:

  1. Wait for a raise as per the payment schedule

  2. Get more flight experience.

  3. Become an airline captain

  4. Work for major airlines

1. Wait for a raise as per the payment schedule

Most airlines have an established pay schedule chart and, as per that, they increase the salaries of their airline pilots every year. New airline pilots can expect a big increase in salary after they have completed the mandatory one-year probationary period.

2. Get more flight experience

New airline pilots can expect a steady rise in their hourly wages as they log in more flight hours. They will make a significantly larger sum of money in their fifth year as an airline pilot than they did in the first. After five years, they may get an advanced position and higher pay as a first officer.

3. Become an airline captain

After gaining five to 15 years of flight experience, first officers can move up to become captains and earn a bigger salary. Along with the higher pay, captains bear the primary responsibility for the flight, the crew and the passengers.

4. Work for major airlines

Major airlines pay airline pilots a higher hourly rate than regional airlines do, so working for a major airline is the way to go to earn a higher paycheck. However, regional airlines have now increased their hourly pay rates and benefits, along with a hefty signing bonus, in a bid to attract and retain airline pilots.

While their rates are still lower as compared to major airlines, they can provide an excellent learning experience for newcomers. Many new airline pilots work for regional airlines to gain experience and then move on the work at higher pay for the major airlines.

Related jobs list

Some positions that have duties similar to an airline pilot are:

  • School bus driver

  • Truck driver

  • Delivery driver

  • Travel agent

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