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The pay of a commercial pilot


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Before spending $70k on a commercial pilot's license here's a look at the median salaries of America's 50 highest-paying jobs, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

1. Surgeons -- $177,690

2. Anesthesiologists -- $174,240

3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- $171,810

4. Orthodontists -- $163,410

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons -- $160,660

6. Internists, General -- $156,550

7. Psychiatrists -- $146,150

8. Prosthodontists -- $146,080

9. Family and General Practitioners -- $140,370

10. Chief Executives -- $139,810

11. Pediatricians, General -- $139,230

12. Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers -- $135,040

13. Dentists, General -- $133,680

14. Podiatrists -- $111,250

15. Lawyers -- $110,520

16. Air Traffic Controllers -- $105,820

17. Engineering Managers -- $105,470

18. Computer and Information Systems Managers -- $102,360

19. Marketing Managers -- $101,990

20. Astronomers -- $101,360

21. Natural Sciences Managers -- $99,140

22. Sales Managers -- $98,510

23. Petroleum Engineers -- $97,350

24. Financial Managers -- $96,620

25. Law Teachers, Postsecondary -- $95,570

26. Optometrists -- $95,500

27. General and Operations Managers -- $95,470

28. Computer and Information Scientists, Research -- $94,030

29. Judges, Magistrate Judges and Magistrates -- $91,500

30. Physicists -- $91,480

31. Actuaries -- $90,760

32. Nuclear Engineers -- $90,690

33. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists -- $89,980

34. Human Resources Managers -- $89,950

35. Pharmacists -- $88,650

36. Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents -- $87,990

37. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners -- $87,630

38. Computer Hardware Engineers -- $87,170

39. Public Relations Managers -- $85,820

40. Aerospace Engineers -- $85,450

41. Political Scientists -- $84,820

42. Physical Scientists -- $84,380

43. Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software -- $84,310

44. Personal Financial Advisors -- $82,970

45. Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary -- $82,450

46. Chiropractors -- $82,060

47. Industrial Production Managers -- $81,960

48. Construction Managers -- $81,760

49. Purchasing Managers -- $81,440

50. Advertising and Promotions Managers -- $81,250

 

Commercial Pilot -- $55,810

 

Here's the BLS site: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes532012.htm#top

 

All but 3 or 4 of the above would require at least a Bachelor's degree and for most $70k would be more than enough to finance the education.

 

In the BLS tables, for the industries with the highest level of employment in this occupation (commercial pilot) 41% of the jobs are in training...the lowest paying.

 

The top paying industries for this occupation are in Data Processing, aerospace, etc...corporate jobs requiring high experience and having low employment numbers.

 

Plan on relocating because the states with the highest employment are in the frozen North, the GOM and around the ditch.

 

Interesting, huh?

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Fry.. I have seen a lot of negative nancy comments from you. I am pretty sure most people know about this stuff. Atleast I have spent many nights researching anything I could.

And I really doubt someone would become a helicopter pilot for the pay. I dont care for the money, but it is, however, too exspensive for me to do.. :(

 

So please, stop dropping these comments to everything and everyone. No one want to hear it.

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Granted, life as an "employee" will always be sub-par.

 

You do have the power to make your own way as large or small as you choose.

 

Owners (in any field) MAKE money. Employees will ALWAYS only receive an allowance.

 

Owners (in any field) dictate their own schedule. Employees will ALWAYS have the 1 or 2 weeks a year.

 

a 55K annual return on an investment of 70K is garbage....any way you slice it. Who gives a crap is your passionate. Thats a poor investment any way you slice it.

 

So, what is to keep a newly minted pilot from starting his own business, starting out small doing rides or whatever, generating revenue. As simply as that you are now in control of your future. You can fly, you can make money, and you can work as hard as you want. The harder you work, the more YOU make (not someone else). Yes, you could work overtime for PHI or your hospital to get a little extra scratch....but you still wont get the benefits of owning your own business and you will NEVER even get so much as a look of the uber-money that your employer makes. Now when you are the employer....its a whole different can of worms.

 

I already know that I wont ever make crap as pilot (for someone else). I do know that I can get a return on my investment if I go at it myself. All of these mega-operators started out with one helicopter and one or 2 guys back in the day. 20 or 30 years later, they are fortune 500, publicly traded, multi-million dollar operations.

 

You read soo much about how every operator is just crap to work for, bottom feeders etc. CHANGE IT! The reason people dont goes back into the societal sheep factor....its EASIER to just follow the herd. Screw that! If you dont ever take any risks you will never get return.

 

It makes absolutely NO SENSE at all to spend 70K on training and then hurry off to a 12K a year job as an instructor. A new pilot CAN go out and get a job (working for themselves). Yes, its expensive and there are a mryiad of programs for people to start a business. So, having said all that........What is your excuse?

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1. Surgeons -- $177,690

2. Anesthesiologists -- $174,240

3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- $171,810

4. Orthodontists -- $163,410

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons -- $160,660

6. Internists, General -- $156,550

7. Psychiatrists -- $146,150

8. Prosthodontists -- $146,080

9. Family and General Practitioners -- $140,370

10. Chief Executives -- $139,810

11. Pediatricians, General -- $139,230

12. Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers -- $135,040

13. Dentists, General -- $133,680

14. Podiatrists -- $111,250

15. Lawyers -- $110,520

16. Air Traffic Controllers -- $105,820

17. Engineering Managers -- $105,470

18. Computer and Information Systems Managers -- $102,360

19. Marketing Managers -- $101,990

20. Astronomers -- $101,360

21. Natural Sciences Managers -- $99,140

22. Sales Managers -- $98,510

23. Petroleum Engineers -- $97,350

24. Financial Managers -- $96,620

25. Law Teachers, Postsecondary -- $95,570

26. Optometrists -- $95,500

27. General and Operations Managers -- $95,470

28. Computer and Information Scientists, Research -- $94,030

29. Judges, Magistrate Judges and Magistrates -- $91,500

30. Physicists -- $91,480

31. Actuaries -- $90,760

32. Nuclear Engineers -- $90,690

33. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists -- $89,980

34. Human Resources Managers -- $89,950

35. Pharmacists -- $88,650

36. Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents -- $87,990

37. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners -- $87,630

38. Computer Hardware Engineers -- $87,170

39. Public Relations Managers -- $85,820

40. Aerospace Engineers -- $85,450

41. Political Scientists -- $84,820

42. Physical Scientists -- $84,380

43. Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software -- $84,310

44. Personal Financial Advisors -- $82,970

45. Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary -- $82,450

46. Chiropractors -- $82,060

47. Industrial Production Managers -- $81,960

48. Construction Managers -- $81,760

49. Purchasing Managers -- $81,440

50. Advertising and Promotions Managers -- $81,250

 

 

 

I've gotten where I can read 1 line of a post and recognize it's from fry. Not that this is a bad thing--it's a balance to the live your dreams and fly like an eagle lines you hear when talking about flying. So fry, is it your internist, GP, or psychiatrist that's practicing with a BS?

 

But a reality check is in order here: all of the top 10 jobs listed require an advanced degree. MDs can be in training for 12 years after undergrad, 2/3rds of that making small salaries relative to their debt and working 24-36 hr shifts. Yeah, eventually they make that up, but it isn't an easy road, even if you were HS valedictorian and got that 4.0 GPA in undergrad. The other highlighted jobs probably require a PhD, which is even worse: 5-8 years as a student making little or nothing, 2-5 years as a post-doc making hardly anything, then, for academics, 7+ years making what a commercial pilot makes to fight for a tenure-track position. These guys will also be living in high-cost of living cities the whole time, so a physicist making $90K living in Boston ain't doing as well as you think, not to mention the years he did that making $2K more than what Massachusetts considers poverty. And any astronomer getting into the field for a six-figure salary is a real star-gazer. Oh, and about 1/3rd of the remaining jobs require a specialized degree beyond a BS, an MS, or an MBA--the latter being very expensive, and not all of them make CEO and get to fly on the company jet.

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It makes absolutely NO SENSE at all to spend 70K on training and then hurry off to a 12K a year job as an instructor. A new pilot CAN go out and get a job (working for themselves). Yes, its expensive and there are a mryiad of programs for people to start a business. So, having said all that........What is your excuse?

 

Most people would say the excuse is the capital required...and they'd be right. The outlay for the aircraft (lease or buy) and the working capital to keep things running until the revenues exceed the expenses are substantial in aviation. And of course there is the very real risk that the revenues will never exceed the expenses and the owner loses his entire investment...wasn't there a thread not long ago about that and HSH.

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Most people would say the excuse is the capital required...and they'd be right. The outlay for the aircraft (lease or buy) and the working capital to keep things running until the revenues exceed the expenses are substantial in aviation. And of course there is the very real risk that the revenues will never exceed the expenses and the owner loses his entire investment...wasn't there a thread not long ago about that and HSH.

 

One would need to actually exert the energy to make contacts and dig into that information from folks that have done or are doing that.

 

A well written business plan and a detailed showing for revenue generation will go a long ways when you ask a bank for the scratch. I've figured my business plan to need to operate 5 hours a MONTH to pay for everything (to include my salary). Yes, this includes insurance, fixed and direct operation costs, advertising, vehicle expense, et all. No I will not go into details and yes, it will be 110% legal. And NO it has nothing to do with being an instructor.

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A well written business plan and a detailed showing for revenue generation will go a long ways when you ask a bank for the scratch.

 

Would you lend YOU money based on an Excel spreadsheet?

 

I've figured my business plan to need to operate 5 hours a MONTH to pay for everything (to include my salary). Yes, this includes insurance, fixed and direct operation costs, advertising, vehicle expense, et all.

 

Don't tell your boss to f**k off just yet.

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So fry, is it your internist, GP, or psychiatrist that's practicing with a BS?

 

Probably the shrink. Actually I said all but 3 or 4 require "at least" a Bachelor's degree. But in any case, you're being too literal. I did not intend to compare the training, compensation or quality of life of the 50 highest paying occupations to that of a commercial pilot. What I took from reading that list is the glaring dis-similarity in the cost of training relative to future employment prospects (which of course is irrelevant if one is not in it for the quality of life but only for the "passion"). Simply put, $70k expended on 200 flight hours seems to me to be a fairly unproductive use of that substantial amount of money...and even more so if the trainee never gets beyond CFI (which, I believe, most will not).

 

Gotta go, I'm expected in surgery. ;)

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I get to fly a helicopter 183 days a year for that 55 and goof off the other 182!!

 

Sure beats 55 for 254 days of work a year in some office waiting for that two weeks off a year.

 

What do you do?

 

Still waiting for your credentials or at least an explanation for your misery.

 

You want some company but you're not getting it from me.

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Question: Who comes to a forum devoted specifically to helicopters and tries to talk everyone out of becoming one.

Is this your mission in life? Did it come to you in a dream? What is your motivation?

You spend an awful lot of effort making your case, you should use that effort to make some more cash and take a vacation. In the mean time leave us alone so that we can search the web for statistics that say the R22 is better than the 300.

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Before spending $70k on a commercial pilot's license here's a look at the median salaries of America's 50 highest-paying jobs, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

1. Surgeons -- $177,690

2. Anesthesiologists -- $174,240

3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- $171,810

4. Orthodontists -- $163,410

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons -- $160,660

6. Internists, General -- $156,550

7. Psychiatrists -- $146,150

8. Prosthodontists -- $146,080

9. Family and General Practitioners -- $140,370

10. Chief Executives -- $139,810

11. Pediatricians, General -- $139,230

12. Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers -- $135,040

13. Dentists, General -- $133,680

14. Podiatrists -- $111,250

15. Lawyers -- $110,520

16. Air Traffic Controllers -- $105,820

17. Engineering Managers -- $105,470

18. Computer and Information Systems Managers -- $102,360

19. Marketing Managers -- $101,990

20. Astronomers -- $101,360

21. Natural Sciences Managers -- $99,140

22. Sales Managers -- $98,510

23. Petroleum Engineers -- $97,350

24. Financial Managers -- $96,620

25. Law Teachers, Postsecondary -- $95,570

26. Optometrists -- $95,500

27. General and Operations Managers -- $95,470

28. Computer and Information Scientists, Research -- $94,030

29. Judges, Magistrate Judges and Magistrates -- $91,500

30. Physicists -- $91,480

31. Actuaries -- $90,760

32. Nuclear Engineers -- $90,690

33. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists -- $89,980

34. Human Resources Managers -- $89,950

35. Pharmacists -- $88,650

36. Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents -- $87,990

37. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners -- $87,630

38. Computer Hardware Engineers -- $87,170

39. Public Relations Managers -- $85,820

40. Aerospace Engineers -- $85,450

41. Political Scientists -- $84,820

42. Physical Scientists -- $84,380

43. Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software -- $84,310

44. Personal Financial Advisors -- $82,970

45. Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary -- $82,450

46. Chiropractors -- $82,060

47. Industrial Production Managers -- $81,960

48. Construction Managers -- $81,760

49. Purchasing Managers -- $81,440

50. Advertising and Promotions Managers -- $81,250

 

Commercial Pilot -- $55,810

 

Here's the BLS site: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes532012.htm#top

 

All but 3 or 4 of the above would require at least a Bachelor's degree and for most $70k would be more than enough to finance the education.

 

In the BLS tables, for the industries with the highest level of employment in this occupation (commercial pilot) 41% of the jobs are in training...the lowest paying.

 

The top paying industries for this occupation are in Data Processing, aerospace, etc...corporate jobs requiring high experience and having low employment numbers.

 

Plan on relocating because the states with the highest employment are in the frozen North, the GOM and around the ditch.

 

Interesting, huh?

 

 

 

 

Yeeahh..........all those jobs.............................................suck.

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Question: Who comes to a forum devoted specifically to helicopters and tries to talk everyone out of becoming one.

Is this your mission in life? Did it come to you in a dream? What is your motivation?

You spend an awful lot of effort making your case, you should use that effort to make some more cash and take a vacation. In the mean time leave us alone so that we can search the web for statistics that say the R22 is better than the 300.

 

Seriously what is your problem fry?

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Seriously what is your problem fry?

 

I thought I was fairly clear, "Simply put, $70k expended on 200 flight hours seems to me to be a fairly unproductive use of that substantial amount of money...and even more so if the trainee never gets beyond CFI (which, I believe, most will not)."

 

Borrowing $70k is like a reverse 401(k). Instead of putting money away and earning a return on it the borrower is taking eight hundred bucks right off the top of a paycheck...right along with the taxes...and sending it to the bank for fifteen years. If that borrower is not earning a paycheck as a helicopter pilot then that money was WASTED...he should have used it to put his kids through college.

 

If that hard reality, as opposed to the "live your dream" fantasy, offends your delicate sensibilites then here's a suggestion...don't read the posts.

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yea, i can see that going the pilot route and paying for training is a total waste of money.......yea right.

 

like most professions, it takes training to get there, and it's usually not cheap. please tell me a profession that takes little or no capital to train for but pays big bucks in return?

 

me? i was the kid at the airport, spending all my money i made on flight lessons and being an airport bum. joined the navy one week after graduating high school, worked as an avionics tech, and joined the navy flying club. got out, used my GI bill and got my ratings. worked as a flight instructor, charter, fire patrol, etc and worked my way into an airline seat. i'm now a senior B727 captain, working about 8 days per 28 day bid, and have my own helicopter business which is doing quite well. this last year my earnings will be in excess of $250,000.

 

don't know about you, but i say it's been a pretty good return on my investment.

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I made over $80k last year as a helo pilot $55k is just an average. I have also talked to some helo drivers that have made more than $140K last year

 

Actually, the $55k was the median...half are above and half are below. And of course that range includes CFIs...which make up a large percentage of the jobs and who make significantly less than the average. So, generally speaking, most working pilots...not including CFIs...make more than $55k. But how much more?

Check out the payscales.

 

http://brian.hudson.home.mchsi.com/helopay...cales/index.htm

 

About ten years with the company to make a base pay in the mid-60s. Maybe that's an adequate compensation relative to the cost of living in Lousiana. I sure wouldn't go into debt and move the family there for it though.

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I thought I was fairly clear, "Simply put, $70k expended on 200 flight hours ....

 

Is this what people are spending on getting their certifications? Seems high, no?

 

 

Getting student loans for education & them job is the norm; some are higher & some are lower. Whay rant against just helo flying? Why not any other employment choice? Or are you just against loans for education period & just want free education for all for any job?

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Is this what people are spending on getting their certifications? Seems high, no?

Getting student loans for education & them job is the norm; some are higher & some are lower. Whay rant against just helo flying? Why not any other employment choice? Or are you just against loans for education period & just want free education for all for any job?

 

Silver State's program costs $69.9k for 200 flight hours. Yes, it does appear to be high compared to other established schools' advertised prices for 200 hours. If the amount is financed and deferred for 18 months the newly minted CFI begins his flying career with about $81k in debt...payments of more than $800 a month for 15 years. The "average" four year college graduate leaves school with about $21k in debt.

 

Financing flight training is a high risk proposition because if the student does not go on to earn a paycheck as a working pilot...beyond the CFI apprenticeship...the money has been wasted. And it is a lot of money. That training will not open doors for any other line of work.

 

Now, it would be one thing if the beginning student decides after he has started training that he does not want to do this for a living and when he withdraws he is charged only for the training he has received. But Silver State's program charges 10% of the program cost monthly...unrelated to the services provided. I have read of students spending the first three months in ground school and the sim. That would be an expenditure of almost $21k before setting foot in an aircraft. Imagine the potential for abuse in such a fixed price arrangement...the company could actually make more bottomline profit if the students do not fly.

 

But once a student has signed the contract and allowed the funds to be advanced by the lender to SSH there is very little he can do about it if he changes his mind. So, we come here and discuss the pros and cons and risks of a career in aviation. A potential student can then weigh what he reads here against what he hears from the sales rep and make an informed decision. Is that such a bad thing?

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Silver State's program costs $69.9k for 200 flight hours. Yes, it does appear to be high compared to other established schools' advertised prices for 200 hours. If the amount is financed and deferred for 18 months the newly minted CFI begins his flying career with about $81k in debt...payments of more than $800 a month for 15 years. The "average" four year college graduate leaves school with about $21k in debt.

 

Financing flight training is a high risk proposition because if the student does not go on to earn a paycheck as a working pilot...beyond the CFI apprenticeship...the money has been wasted. And it is a lot of money. That training will not open doors for any other line of work.

 

Now, it would be one thing if the beginning student decides after he has started training that he does not want to do this for a living and when he withdraws he is charged only for the training he has received. But Silver State's program charges 10% of the program cost monthly...unrelated to the services provided. I have read of students spending the first three months in ground school and the sim. That would be an expenditure of almost $21k before setting foot in an aircraft. Imagine the potential for abuse in such a fixed price arrangement...the company could actually make more bottomline profit if the students do not fly.

 

But once a student has signed the contract and allowed the funds to be advanced by the lender to SSH there is very little he can do about it if he changes his mind. So, we come here and discuss the pros and cons and risks of a career in aviation. A potential student can then weigh what he reads here against what he hears from the sales rep and make an informed decision. Is that such a bad thing?

 

You are using the worst case senario (SSH), but not everyone uses SSH. We all know your hate towards SSH (and anyone going to SSH would be kinda' stupid after all what has been written), but using that as an excuse to urge people not to go into a career as a whole is a little much. Have you personally been burned by SSH? Is that the cause of your hate towards avaiation as a career choice?

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While he seems to be the constant pessimist, I agree with Fry as far as debt is concerned. In my opinion it really is foolhardy to borrow the total sum needed to complete your training (200hrs). I am currently working in the Industrial Supply field, the old 7 to 5 grind, but I am gaining experience to use later in life (sales experience which may let me combine both my pilot training and business experience to work as a pilot and other capacities) and living like I am still in college, meaning very cheap, not totally drunk. My dream since I was a kid has been to fly these amazing aircraft, but I realize that I will take a pay cut initially and possibly for good, but it is worth it for me. I don't think anyone who dreams of becoming a pilot dreams about the money. I will however, not be burdened by an unbelievable amount of debt, the majority of which is made up of interest expense. I am dying for the chance to get into an aircraft full time,and to have the extra time that should come with a 7/7 schedule, but I do not intend to tie myself to a huge debt load just to speed up the process. Be smart and patient.

 

JMHO

 

Josh

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Incurring debt for any vocation is pretty much the norm nowadays. Yes, you have to smart & patient & try to get your education with as little as debt as possible, but Fry's constant rant againt loans & SSH is duly noted - maybe time to give it a rest. No offense Fry, but man, we get it....

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