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What Does it Take to Be a Commercial Pilot?

Job Description: 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.

List of Commercial Pilot Job Duties

  • Use instrumentation to pilot aircraft when visibility is poor.
  • Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
  • Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
  • Pilot airplanes or helicopters over farmlands at low altitudes to dust or spray fields with fertilizers, fungicides, or pesticides.
  • Rescue and evacuate injured persons.
  • Plan and formulate flight activities and test schedules and prepare flight evaluation reports.

Skills Needed to be a Commercial Pilot

Below is a list of the skills most Commercial Pilots say are important on the job.

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.

  • Commercial Pilot
  • First Officer
  • Astronaut
  • Agricultural Pilot
  • Balloon Pilot

Commercial Pilot Employment Estimates

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. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 4,000 job openings in this field each year.

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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.

Commercial Pilot Average Salary

The average yearly salary of a Commercial Pilot ranges between $44,660 and $160,480.

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

How much do Commercial Pilots make in different U.S. states?

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?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Commercial Pilots may use on a daily basis:

  • 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

How do I Become a Commercial Pilot?

What education is needed to be a Commercial Pilot?

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Where Commercial Pilots Are Employed

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The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

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Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those interested in being a Commercial Pilot may also be interested in:

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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