The Federal Aviation Administration reports there were about 827,000 pilots in America in 1987. Over the past three decades, the number has dropped by 30%. During the same time period, the demand for air travel has dramatically increased. A classic case of low supply and high demand has created the perfect opportunity for high paying pilot careers.
Future Pilot Outlook
Boeing projects that the global industry will need 558,000 new pilots in the next 20 years to meet rising demand. 100,000 of those pilots will be needed in the U.S. alone. This is a massive opportunity for young people entering the aviation profession. With the number of older pilots set for retirement and the general shortage, the path to the captain’s chair could be streamlined for young pilots in a way we’ve never seen in the past.
Starting salaries for most major airlines are ranging from $60,000 to $80,000, compared to the average wage of entry-level regional airliners in the mid $20,000 range. The potential for a lucrative salary is there with most senior pilots at major airlines making $300,000 in annual salaries with benefits. Working 12 days a month to make up to $300,000 a year is not a bad way to make a living.
A growing Chinese economy and an explosion of Chinese travelers has made Chinese airlines a very attractive option for pilots who don’t mind living and working abroad. China is reported to be paying qualified American commercial airline pilots more than $200,000 to start. Expatriates who are certified to fly large aircraft are being paid up $300,00 in the Asia Pacific markets.
Bonuses and Incentives
SkyWest Airlines are promising qualified students guaranteed interviews for first officer positions, mentorship, and recruitment involvement. They have also increased their first and second-year pay, and other airlines are doing the same. Endeavor Air, a Delta Aire Lines subsidiary, is offering recruits $80,000 signing bonuses. The incentives and bonuses are universal among airlines looking for young talent.
No Better Time Than Now
The bottom line is there is no better time than now to start a career in aviation. The market and the economy is always changing, and for young aspiring aviators, today is a golden opportunity to begin a stable and rewarding career as a pilot. Attending a reputable flight school that can expedite your training and set you up for a lifetime of piloting success is the first step.