Commercial Pilot Careers

comm-pilot-500Commercial pilots are responsible for flying airliners and transporting individuals from one place to another. They are highly trained individuals and compose the elite ranks of pilots.

Commercial pilots generally travel frequently and have irregular schedules. This inconsistency comes with fantastic perks including the ability to see the world and pull an impressive salary, however.

The work environment consists of the flight deck of the specific airline the pilot has been assigned to, and work hours may vary wildly from week to week. The Federal Aviation Administration carefully regulates the number of hours per week pilots are allowed to fly, so opportunities for overtime are scarce. Self-employment as a charter pilot is a possibility once a commercial pilot’s license has been secured.

Commercial Pilot Career Snapshot

Further details on a career as a commercial pilot are listed below (statistics from the May 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average annual salary for commercial pilots.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a Bachelor’s degree while 25% have a Post-secondary certificate.

Commercial Pilot Education

The education requirements for commercial pilots are strictly regulated. To fly an airliner, individuals must hold an ATP pilot’s license, which requires 1,500 flight hours accrued over a series of licenses including a private license, instrument rating, commercial license, and multi-engine rating, each with 2-3 practical tests and a final written exam. Pilots must then undergo type rating training in the specific plane they will be flying, as any aircraft over 12,500 pounds requires a type rating prior to operation. In addition, most airlines require a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline from their pilots. Some Bachelor’s degree programs in commercial aviation are available throughout the country, but students will still need to accrue 1,500 hours of flight time which may need to be done on their own.

Commercial Pilot Salaries

The average salary for commercial pilots ranges from $34,800 to $147,890, with a median of around $76,150 as reported by May 2015 statistics. Seniority is generally the determining factor for raises within the industry.

Commercial Pilot Job Duties

Job duties of commercial pilots are mainly limited to piloting the aircraft; however, this encompasses a huge number of tasks. Pilots must determine weather, weight and balance, the condition of their aircraft, and a variety of other factors prior to making a go/no go decision about the launch of their flight. Pilots are responsible for the lives of the people they are transporting, which can be a daunting idea for some.

Commercial Pilot Job Outlook

Expected job growth is average (10%), although this rate is likely to accelerate in upcoming years due to required retirement ages being raised by the FAA and the resulting retirement bubble beginning to burst. Due to the level of training required, pilots are generally able to find employment easily.

Commercial Pilot Skills & Traits

Commercial Pilot Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Commercial Pilots:Typical Work Activities:
• Operation and Control
• Operation Monitoring
• Critical Thinking
• Monitoring
• Active Listening
• Control Precision
• Far Vision
• Near Vision
• Problem Sensitivity
• Response Orientation
• Aircraft braking systems
• Aircraft communication systems
• Aircraft guidance systems
• Aircraft warning systems
• Flight computer systems
• Operating Vehicles
• Getting Information
• Inspecting Equipment
• Identifying Objects/Actions
• Decision Making

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