Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 Hot Aviation Careers

A new era of aerospace is fueling aviation career opportunities

Salary Comparison

Salaries in the aviation sector have been steadily improving, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional airline salaries, however, haven't improved by much. The Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) places the initial starting salary for regional airline first officers at $22,400. Still, there are signs that salaries for pilots will be forced to improve as regional carriers start to park aircraft, lacking pilots to fly them. Outside of the cockpit, demand is high and salaries are solid, with good benefits and lifestyle improvements.

Here's a look at average salaries in several flying and nonflying areas of aviation. We have included three of the top sources for salary information, and you'll note that each source varies considerably in their salary reports. An excellent and detailed professional pilot salary study was conducted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and published in June 2012. (A link to the study is provided below.)

Flying Job Average Salaries
Job Bureau Of Labor Statistics
Captain—large jet, major carrier 130,410 125,000 120,416
First Officer—large jet, major carrier 82,180 80,000 84,984
82,180 92,500 103,281
First Officer—corporate 80,140 65,000 88,192
Chief Pilot—jet, large carrier 128,760 125,000 155,528
Helicopter Pilot—nonpassenger 82,180 85,000 84,742
EMS Pilot 82,180-101,820 80,000 84,424
Test Pilot—mid-level experience 102,430 106,225 158,167
Regional First Officer—3-5 yrs experience Not listed 30,000-40,000 47,000
US Air Force 2nd Lt Flight Officer 53,616 Not listed Not listed
Nonflying Job Average Salaries
Job Bureau Of Labor Statistics
Air Traffic Controller—mid-level experience 122,530 Not listed Not listed
Flight Test Engineer 104,810 96,954 94,290
Aerospace Systems Engineer
130,640 100,000 92,893
Software Engineer 111,380 95,000 90,614
Security Analyst 86,170 Not listed 79,570
A&P Mechanic/Technician 56,550 41,500-80,000 55,639
Avionics Technician 48,970 50,000 55,359
Flight Attendant 37,240 (2012) $14.50/hour
(1 listing)
Airport Manager 61,930 88,991 Not listed
UAV Pilot—entry level 85,000-115,000 Not listed Not listed
1. Salaries vary widely based on region within the United States
2. In some cases, the job listing that most closely matched was used
3. Experience levels weren't always consistent across different sources
4. UAV pilot salary is based on AUVSI figures
Embry-Riddle Salary Study—


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