(Last Updated On: January 2, 2020)
For the longest time, many young people have wanted to become pilots since it has been regarded as a prestigious job for quite a number of years. However, the cost of becoming a pilot is one of the biggest barriers of entry into the industry. In the United States, it will cost around $133,000 to get a college degree, $8,000 to get a private pilot license, $900 for instrument rating, $23,500 for additional flight time and other additional costs amounting to $80,000. All these are the costs that may be involved to get a Commercial Pilot License. In order to get an airline transport license, it may cost a pilot $136,000 in rental fees if they were to pay for the flight time they need. However, most pilots fly small planes such as sky diving planes, flying banners etc to get the hours they need to move to the next level.
Long haul flights are more lucrative than short haul regional flights hence more senior pilots go for the international long haul flights. Here is a list of countries with the highest paid pilots.
Average salary – $300,000
A pilot in China can earn $25,000 a month or roughly $300,000 a year and in addition to this they are entitled to an end of contract bonus of as much as $80,000. The biggest airlines in China are China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air China and Hainan Airlines. The fast economic growth in the country has brought about a huge demand in passengers wanting to fly to different parts of the world and this has led to a shortage of pilots in the country.
Average salary – $245,000
KLM is the largest Dutch airline and their pilot salaries start at about €50,000 for a first officer and €256,700 for an experienced captain. A captain’s base salary is around €133,600 a year. The average pay is around €218,500 annually ($245,000).
Average salary – $235,000
Air France is the country’s national airline and senior pilots working for this airline earn about €208,000 ($235,000) annually after flying two hours a day long haul and one and a half hours short haul.
Average salary – $225,000
Ryanair is the biggest operator in the country and it pays its Dublin based pilot an average of €15,000 – €200,000 annually.
Average salary – $225,000
The starting wages for a pilot working for Canada’s biggest flagship airline Air Canada is around CAD50,000 and reach CAD62,000. A Boeing 777 Captain with 12 years experience can earn around CAD300,000 a year ($225,000).
Average salary – $220,000
Qatar Airways is the state owned flag carrier of Qatar headquartered in Doha. A captain’s base salary plus allowance is QAR50,000 while experienced captain earn QAR69,000 a month. The average yearly salary for a Qatar Airway pilot is $220,000.
Average salary – $203,000
The largest airline in Germany is Lufthansa and has hired over 5,500 pilots which make up the vast majority of pilots in the country. The average annual pay for the pilots is €180,000 ($203,000). Experienced pilots can easily make more than €200,000 or about $275,000 a year and those captain on the highest pay level earn as much as €22,000 a month. This is way higher than the average German wage of about $45,000 a year.
Average salary – $211,000
Swiss Air is the national carrier in the country. A pilot in Switzerland earns between 4,861 and 17,600 francs a month. At the beginning, a co-pilot will receive 4,861 francs per month on the short haul route and 6,575 on the long haul route. The maximum wage for an experienced short range captain is 12,000 francs a month and a long haul captain can earn up to 17,600 francs a month. This is around $211,000 a year.
Average salary – $200,000
In the UAE, Emirates is the country’s flagship airline. Captains of A380 and B777 are offered a total monthly tax free salary of $16,270 (AED59,770). This is composed of a basic salary of $11,633 (AED42,690) a month plus average flying pay and $4,400 as monthly housing allowance.
10. United Kingdom
Average salary – $180,000
In the UK, British Airways is the flag carrier in the country and the largest based on fleet size but second largest behind easyJet when measured by passengers carried. Other major airlines in the UK include Virgin Atlantic, FlyBe, Jet2, Ryanair UK etc. The starting salaries for newly qualified first officers may be around £24,000 in small operations while in larger companies it can be around £28,000. More experienced pilots earn from the range of £36,000 to £48,000 as a first officer. When the move to a medium sized airline it can range from £57,000 to £78,000. Major operators such as BA pay their pilots from £97,000 to over £140,000 annually.