Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Stan T.Career, Overview

Job description

Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport Pilot certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, National, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.

  • Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
  • Use instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
  • Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
  • Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
Read more about what does an Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$169560 per year

Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers with little to no experience tend to make between $65690 and $94380 while the more experienced ones can earn over $208,000 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
WA $- $237,150
MI $- $233,550
NV $- $220,400
OR $- $205,660
CA $- $205,520

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as an Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer is to move to a higher paying state like WA. Right now, the highest paying states for Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers are WA, MI, NV, OR and CA.

However, a higher pay at WA doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at WA might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as an Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Bachelor’s degree

We asked other Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Bachelor’s Degree followed by a Post-Secondary Certificate.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew
Flight Instructor
Read more about how to become an Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being an Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer.

Suitable for people who likes practical and hands-on work
Suitable for people who wants to work in a supportive work environment
This career is perfect for people who love to work both indoors and outdoors.
One of the highest paid careers in the world
Not suitable for people who likes to work with designs
It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Demand for this career is declining
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

74% of Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers said they were satisfied with their job and 53% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Victor Costello

A typical day flying for Ryan air would follow this schedule: I would receive and review the flight plan long before departure, as well as review the weather at departure and destination airport. I’d then decide how much fuel would be required for the flight and possible weather and other delays. Brief the co-pilot and … Read More

Kate Tian
An air ambulance service in Alberta

My name is Kate Tian. I hold a commercial pilot’s license for both helicopters and airplanes in Canada with 2000 hours of flying experience. I’m a Co-pilot on an air ambulance service in Alberta, and Aerobatic Pilot and owner at Thin Air Adventures in British Columbia. My typical day I work 15 days on duty … Read More

Brett Manders

My Name is Brett Manders and I am an International Airline Pilot. The thing about working in Aviation is that no day is typical. We might see and deal with various common situations but it is always at different times of the day at different airports. Starting our day we review our flight plan and … Read More

Martin Pletzer
A major European Airline

There is so much variety in schedules, destinations, teams you are working with…that makes each day very unique. I live and work in Austria. I have to say, that the pandemic changed my life quite drastically. Until a year ago my working base was close to my hometown, where I live with my family. This … Read More

Patrick Smith
One of the bigger commercial carriers

There’s a tremendous amount of variation here. Some pilots work punishing schedules at low pay; others enjoy fat salaries and long layovers in glamorous foreign cities. It depends on which company the pilot works for, which aircraft and base he or she is assigned to, whether he or she is a first officer or a … Read More

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Builders and The Organizers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery..

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Learn more about Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers

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Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers job description, Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers salary, Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers information, what is the job of an Airline Pilot, Copilot and Flight Engineer like, pros and cons about Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers, colleges and universities for Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers, is Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers the right career for me, careers in Transportation

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