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Step 1: Pilot Flying Jobs

There are a variety of pilot jobs, each with its own set of hiring requirements, benefits, and challenges. Benefits and compensation will vary according to the type and size of the company. For any pilot job, there is a considerable amount of training required. Some pilots received their training in the military and others through civilian training. For most of the pilot jobs, you must have at least a commercial pilot certificate, instrument and multi-engine ratings. The hiring requirements will vary for each airline and company.

Compensation and some benefits at the airlines and most companies are all based on “seniority.” “Seniority” at an airline is based on a pilot’s date-of-hire. When a pilot is hired as a first officer or flight engineer, he/she is assigned a seniority number at the bottom of the list. For example: When a new pilot is hired, he/she is assigned a seniority number at the bottom of the list such as 105 out of 105 pilots. Over time, the pilot will advance (move up) on the seniority list due to retirements, resignations, or other reasons pilots are removed from the seniority list. Advancing on the seniority list results in better work schedule, aircraft selection, job promotion (upgrading to Captain), route assignments, vacation time preferences, and other privileges.

There are various types of pilot jobs:
Agricultural Pilot
Test Pilot
Major/National Airline Pilot
Regional/Commuter Airline Pilot
Air Freight/Cargo Pilot
Helicopter Pilot
Corporate Pilot
Air Taxi or Charter Pilot
Flight Instructor
Military Pilot
Ferry Pilot
• Astronaut
Other Pilot Jobs


Agricultural Pilot (Aerial Applicator)
An agricultural pilot flies airplanes and/or helicopters carrying various chemicals and compounds such as herbicides, insecticides, seeds and fertilizers to spray farmlands, crops, forests, orchards, fields, or swamps. Some jobs also require aerial surveying of wildlife animals, cattle, and crops, or disbursing fire-extinguishing agents on forest fires.

Salary Range

$20,000 - $70,000

Educational Requirements
High school diploma, special training, and license

Employers

Agricultural operators, large farms
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Test Pilot
There are different types of test pilots such as Experimental, Engineering, and Production Test Pilots. Test pilots must have “nerves of steel.” It is the most hazardous job of all pilot jobs. Their job involves testing new and overhauled airplanes to make sure they are airworthy, which includes, but not limited to: testing the limits of airplane’s design strength, performance capabilities, and equipment, preparing written and oral reports on their flight experiences, and making suggestions for improvements. Test pilots that work for the FAA may test new types of navigational aids or experimental equipment aboard an airplane.

Salary Range
$15,000 - $200,000

Educational Requirements

College Preferred

Employers

FAA, airlines, aircraft manufacturing plants, government agencies

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Major/National Airline Pilot

For many pilots, the ultimate job is to be a major airline pilot. Major/national airline pilots fly passengers or freight/cargo to major and mid-size domestic and/or international cities. There are numerous major/national airlines in the United States, Canada, and other countries. These airlines operate large jet aircraft manufactured by Boeing such as the B-737, B-757, B-777, and Airbus such as the A321, A330.

Some of the benefits of working for the major airlines include: average annual salary between $100,000 and $200,000 or more, flying a variety of airplanes, more than 12 days off per month, excellent working conditions, excellent benefits (health and medical) and retirement plans, travel passes, and other privileges.

Airline pilots begin their careers as First Officers (Co-Pilots) with a regional airline, large corporation, or military branch. After accumulating the necessary flight hours and experience, they apply for pilot positions with major/national airlines. Once hired by the major/national airline, they begin as either a First Officer or Flight Engineer. There are two-three types of pilot positions with airlines: Captain, First Officer, and Flight Engineer.

Salary Range

$23,000 - $250,000 or more

Educational Requirements

College Preferred; most require 4 year degree

Employers
Major and National Airlines

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Commuter/Regional Airline Pilot

Many pilots use the regional airlines as a “stepping stone” to accumulate the necessary flight hours and experience to apply to the major/national airlines. Regional airlines fly short/mid-range routes to small/mid-sized cities to transport passengers to the major cities for the major/national airlines to continue their trip. They operate various airplanes ranging from turboprop to small jet airplanes such as the Jetstream 32 and 41, Beech 1900, Saab 340, ATR, Dash-8, Regional Jet, and others. These airplanes carry between 19 and 70 passengers. There are numerous regional airlines (link) throughout the United States and Canada.

Regional airline pilots work more hours, have less days off, smaller retirement plans, and lower pay rates compared to the major/national airline pilots. There are two types of pilot positions with the regional airlines: Captain and First Officer.

Salary Range

$16,500 - $60,000


Educational Requirements

College Preferred; most require 4 year degree

Employers

Commuter and Regional Airlines

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Air Freight/Cargo Pilot

Air freight/cargo pilots fly time sensitive packages, letters, freight, and cargo such as bank checks, express packages, perishable food items, and more to small and major cities. There are a few major air freight/cargo companies in the United States, Canada, and other countries such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, which operate large jet airplanes such as B-757, B-767, B-747, A-321. There are also numerous small to mid-size companies that have contracts with some of the major cargo carries that operate various small twin-engine, to turboprop and small jet aircrafts such as the Piper Senecas, Beech Barons, Piper Aerostars and the LearJets. These pilots typically fly during the late night and early morning hours between 9p.m. to 7a.m.

Salary Range
$25,000 - $200,000 or more

Educational Requirements
College Preferred; most require 4 year degree

Employers

Major Air Freight/Cargo Airlines
Private Companies
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Helicopter Pilot
Helicopter pilots typically fly short flights in duration at low altitudes carrying workers and/or supplies to offshore oil rigs, transporting accident victims to a hospital heliport, lifting heavy loads to tops of buildings or to remote mountain sites, rescuing stranded people, or disbursing fire extinguishing agents on forest fires. Helicopter pilots can maneuver their helicopter to hover over a particular area, or land on a small cleared area.

Salary Range

$29,000 - $57,000

Educational Requirements
College Preferred; most require 4 year degree

Employers
Helicopter Operators, Large Corporations, Private Companies, Hospitals, Government Agencies, Radio and TV Stations
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Corporate Pilot
Corporate pilots fly aircraft owned by businesses or industrial firms transporting company executives to domestic and/or international cities for company business. The types of airplanes flown vary between turbo-prop planes (i.e. King-Air), executive jets (i.e. Citations to Gulfstreams), and large jets (i.e. Boeing 737). Corporate pilots are responsible for planning all aspects of each trip such as flight planning, arranging for passenger meals and ground transportation at destinations, loading and unloading baggage, supervising the servicing and maintenance of the aircraft, keeping aircraft records, and more.

Unlike airline pilots, corporate pilots fly less routine schedules and irregular hours. These pilots fly to unfamiliar airports, and exotic or exciting places. They are also at the call of the company executives whenever they need to travel on company business. Some large companies have several airplanes and a flight department, in which their pilots may fly a regular schedule. The benefits and compensations are dependent on the type and size of the company.

Salary Range

$19,400-$115,000

Educational Requirements

College preferred; most require 4-year degree

Employers

Large Corporations (with a flight department)
Private Companies (with a flight department)

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Air Taxi or Charter Pilot
Air Taxi or Charter pilots fly fare-paying passengers to destinations of their choice, as service demands. Some pilots also fly cargo. Their flights are usually for short to mid-range trips over varying routes in various twin-engine airplanes to small executive jets such as Beech Barons, King-Airs, Learjets, etc.

Air Taxi or Charter companies offer greater control and flexibility in travel arrangements to accommodate their customers. Some air taxi/charter companies have scheduled flights to specific destinations similar to an airline, but on a much smaller scale. Once air taxi/charter pilots accumulate the necessary flight hours and experience, most pilots apply to the (major, national, or regional) airlines or large corporations for career advancement.

Salary Range

$8-$18/hr

Educational Requirements

College preferred

Employers

Fixed Base Operators, Air Taxi Operators

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Flight Instructor
Flight Instructors teach students how to fly by demonstrating and explaining, on the ground and in the air, basic principles of flight, aerial navigation, communications procedures, weather factors, and Federal Aviation Regulations all pilots must adhere too. They also prepare their students for various exams to help them earn their pilot certificate(s) or rating(s).

There are three types of flight instructors:
1. Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) – teach students seeking a Recreational, Private, or Commercial Pilot Certificate.
2. Certified Instrument Instructor (CFII) - teach students seeking an Instrument Rating.
3. Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI) – teach students seeking a Multi-Engine Rating.

Flight instructors work irregular hours, which are based on several factors such as the type of seasons (i.e. Summer, Winter), weather conditions, and students’ schedules. Once flight instructors accumulate the necessary flight hours and experience, most instructors apply to the regional airlines to earn the flight experience required by the major/national airlines.

Salary Range

$12,300-$40,530

Educational Requirements

H. S. Diploma; flight instructors training

Employers

Flight Schools; Colleges/Universities with Flight Training Programs

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Military Pilot
Military pilots fly for one of the branches within the U.S. Armed Forces (such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guards, and Reserves) defending the United States of America and other interests around the world. The types of aircraft flown are dependent on the military branch, which range from small turbo-prop airplanes, fighter jets, helicopters, to small executive jets, and large transport airplanes. Most military pilots also pursue careers as major/national airline pilots.

Salary Range

$21,000 - $99,000

Educational Requirements

College preferred

Employers

U.S. Armed Forces
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Ferry Pilot
Ferry pilots fly new or old aircrafts from the aircraft’s manufacturing plant to the customers or dealers' showrooms, or from the seller to the buyer, etc. Ferry pilots may fly various types of aircraft ranging from single and twin-engine airplanes to small and large jets. Once ferry pilots accumulate the necessary flight hours and experience, most pilots apply to the regional airlines to earn the flight experience required by the major/national airlines.

Salary Range

$12,000-$65,000

Educational Requirements

H. S. Diploma

Employers
Aircraft manufacturers and dealers

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Other pilot jobs include:
Pipeline Patrol Pilot
Pipeline/Patrol Pilots fly over various terrains, frequently at low altitudes inspecting pipelines or power lines, checking for signs of damage, vandalism and other conditions requiring repairs. Some pilots’ fly along the U.S. borders patrolling these areas for illegal activities.
Flight Navigator
Flight Navigators plot the flight’s course, reports positions, fuel consumption, estimates arrival time, and other duties.
Check Pilot
Check pilots observe other pilots' procedures and proficiency for certain flight maneuvers to ensure that they are flying safely in the aircraft. They also train new pilots.
Aerial Sight-seeing Pilot/Guide
Aerial Sightseeing pilots conduct sightseeing tours for passengers by flying around tourist attractions within their city.
Flight Simulator Instructor
Flight Simulator Instructors train new pilots and observe other pilots' procedures and proficiency for certain flight maneuvers to ensure that they are flying safely in a flight simulator.
Skywriter
Skywriter pilots fly small airplanes that release chemicals in the sky as they perform their aerobatic maneuvers to create words and/or signs to be observed from the audience on the ground.
  Banner-tow Pilot
Banner-tow pilots fly small airplanes or helicopters with a company’s large banner sign attached to the airplane’s tail to market their products or services.
Stunt Pilot
Stunt pilots perform aerobatic maneuvers at air shows displaying their flying skills and stunts (at various altitudes ranging from 1,500 to possibly 10,000 feet) to audiences watching from the ground.
Traffic Control Pilot
Traffic control pilots usually fly small single-engine airplanes or helicopters for local TV and Radio Stations around the city to monitor and report traffic congestion, delays, accidents, etc.



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Where to Find Pilot Flying Jobs


Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004-2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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Learn to Fly: Become a Pilot is your one-stop source to information on flight training, flying lessons, flight schools, and helicopter schools. Learn about the entire flight training process to help you earn your pilot certificates or ratings such as student pilot certificate, commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, and others.

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