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What is a Commercial Pilot?

Commercial Pilot Example Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-winged aircraft on nonscheduled air carrier routes, or helicopters. Requires Commercial Pilot certificate. Includes charter pilots with similar certification, and air ambulance and air tour pilots.

Commercial Pilot Responsibilities

  • Check aircraft prior to flights to ensure that the engines, controls, instruments, and other systems are functioning properly.
  • Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight according to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
  • Co-pilot aircraft or perform captain’s duties as required.
  • Write specified information in flight records, such as flight times, altitudes flown, and fuel consumption.
  • Supervise other crew members.
  • Conduct in-flight tests and evaluations at specified altitudes and in all types of weather to determine the receptivity and other characteristics of equipment and systems.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Commercial Pilot?

When polled, Commercial Pilots say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Types of Commercial Pilot Jobs

  • Commercial Airplane Pilot
  • Aerial Advertiser
  • Chopper Operator
  • Agricultural Pilot
  • Charter Pilot (Commercial Pilot Certificate Required)

Is There Job Demand for Commercial Pilots?

There were about 40,800 jobs for Commercial Pilot in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 3.7% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,500 new jobs for Commercial Pilot by 2026. There will be an estimated 4,000 positions for Commercial Pilot per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Commercial Pilots in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Commercial Pilot are Tennessee, Utah, and Arizona. Watch out if you plan on working in Minnesota, Massachusetts, or Vermont. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Commercial Pilot

Commercial Pilots make between $44,660 and $160,480 a year.

Salary Ranges for Commercial Pilots

Commercial Pilots who work in South Carolina, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, make the highest salaries.

How much do Commercial Pilots make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $91,100
Alaska $91,850
Arizona $80,000
Arkansas $78,310
California $97,720
Colorado $91,930
Connecticut $127,950
Delaware $97,420
Florida $110,540
Georgia $130,760
Hawaii $102,350
Idaho $76,310
Illinois $99,990
Indiana $75,790
Iowa $92,090
Kansas $96,370
Kentucky $106,470
Louisiana $85,440
Maine $58,540
Maryland $110,240
Massachusetts $97,740
Michigan $93,640
Minnesota $106,300
Mississippi $103,000
Missouri $93,420
Montana $82,290
Nebraska $79,700
Nevada $102,590
New Hampshire $66,240
New Jersey $93,440
New Mexico $99,400
New York $127,590
North Carolina $82,060
North Dakota $82,880
Ohio $88,830
Oklahoma $80,300
Oregon $70,900
Pennsylvania $89,030
South Carolina $106,170
South Dakota $63,090
Tennessee $72,300
Texas $104,680
Utah $77,550
Vermont $84,610
Washington $106,360
West Virginia $75,890
Wisconsin $80,520
Wyoming $77,970

What Tools do Commercial Pilots Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Commercial Pilots:

  • Microsoft Office
  • SBS International Maestro Suite
  • RMS Technology Flitesoft
  • Electronic aircraft information databases
  • MJICCS PilotLog
  • Nimblefeet Technologies Captain’s Keeper
  • Polaris Microsystems AeroLog Pro
  • Polaris Microsystems CharterLog
  • AirSmith FlightPrompt
  • Skylog Services Skylog Pro
  • doXstor Flight Level Logbook
  • AeroPlanner
  • Notam Development Group Airport Insight
  • Standard generalized markup language SGML
  • Navzilla
  • Pilot Navigator Software Load Balance
  • Flight simulation software

Becoming a Commercial Pilot

Individuals working as a Commercial Pilot have obtained the following education levels:

Commercial Pilot Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Commercial Pilot Work Experience

Where Commercial Pilots Are Employed

Commercial Pilot Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Commercial Pilots employed by various industries.

Commercial Pilot Industries

You May Also Be Interested In…

Those thinking about becoming a Commercial Pilot might also be interested in the following careers:

References:

Image Credit: Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol via U.S. Air Force photo

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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