AIRCRAFT PILOTS fly planes and helicopters to carry out a variety of tasks. Most pilots transport passengers, cargo, and mail, but others may dust crops, direct fire fighting efforts, track criminals, monitor traffic, etc. Helicopter pilots are involved in police work, rescue, construction, etc. Before departure, pilots plan their flights and check the plane to make sure everything is working properly. They check weather conditions and other information to decide the route, altitude, and speed. Pilots and/or crew monitor and operate the instruments and systems, make in-flight repairs, and watch for other aircraft. Most new aircraft now rely on computerized controls.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $90,500 average per year ($43.50 per hour)
- A medium occupation (98,500 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow moderately (1.2% per year)
All AIRCRAFT PILOTS who are paid to transport passengers or cargo must have a commercial pilot's license with an instrument rating issued by the FAA. Applicants must have 250 hours of flight experience. Airline pilots must have an airline transport pilot's license. Applicants must have 1500 hours of flying experience, including night and instrument flying, and must pass FAA written and flight examinations. Most pilots have a college degree. The armed forces is an important source of trained pilots for civilian jobs. Those without armed forces training may become pilots through flight schools. The FAA has certified about 600 civilian flying schools.