For years, we’ve been putting together surveys of the top aviation jobs, and over time the list hasn’t changed a lot. These careers made it to the top of the list because of their great salaries, worker-friendly schedules, stimulating challenges, potential growth opportunities, and an interesting variety of positions and geographical locations. And to top it off, all of them are likely to be part of growth segments in coming years. In making our calculations, we’ve also considered the time and financial resources the job seeker needs to get into such a position. And while we tried to get as definitive as possible, please be aware that the salary ranges are approximate, and the upper ranges represent the approximate current typical top salary for such fields. Leaders in their fields and those with management and program management responsibility can earn substantially more.
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1. Pilot (airline, corporate, charter, fractional ownership, air taxi, flight instructor, military, test pilot)
Airline pilots begin their careers with the regionals and may move on to the majors; commercial pilots usually have a lower experience threshold before hiring—and commercial opportunities are growing; flight instructors often build time to qualify for another pilot career. Military pilots may see fewer opportunities in the future if unmanned aerial vehicles become prevalent in military operations, but there are almost certainly going to be jobs for those pilots waiting on the civilian side.
Salary Range: $45,000–$250,000