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Airline and Commercial Pilots

Airline and Commercial Pilots
Quick Facts : Airline and Commercial Pilots*
2010 Median Pay$92,060
Entry Level Education
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 2012103,500
Job Outlook11% (About as fast as average)
Employment Change11,500

Airline and commercial pilots fly and navigate airplanes or helicopters. Airline pilots fly for airlines that transport people and cargo on a fixed schedule. Commercial pilots fly aircraft for other reasons, such as charter flights, rescue operations, firefighting, aerial photography, and crop dusting. With proper training, airline pilots may also be deputized as federal law enforcement officers and be issued firearms to protect the cockpit.

What Airline and Commercial Pilots Do

  • Follow a checklist of preflight checks on engines, hydraulics, and other systems
  • Ensure that all cargo has been loaded and that the aircraft weight is properly balanced
  • Check fuel, weather conditions, and flight schedules
  • Contact the control tower for takeoff and arrival instructions
  • Monitor engines, fuel consumption, and other aircraft systems during flight

Work Environment

Pilots spend a considerable amount of time away from home because flights often involve overnight layovers. Those who fly international routes may experience jetlag. Many have variable schedules.
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Job Outlook

Employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 11 percent from 2010 to 2020.
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The average salary of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers in May 2010 was $103,210.
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Airline and Commercial Pilots*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Airline and Commercial Pilots


Transportation Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.

Airline and Commercial Pilots*
Percent Change in Employment

Airline and Commercial Pilots


Transportation Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.


Becoming a Airline and Commercial Pilots

All pilots who are paid to transport passengers or cargo must have a commercial pilot's license and an instrument rating. To qualify for a commercial pilot's license, applicants must be at least 18 years old and have at least 250 hours of flight experience.
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