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What You Need to Know About Commercial Pilot

Commercial Pilot Definition 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.

Life As a Commercial Pilot

  • Instruct other pilots and student pilots in aircraft operations.
  • 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.
  • Check the flight performance of new and experimental planes.
  • Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
  • Write specified information in flight records, such as flight times, altitudes flown, and fuel consumption.
  • Request changes in altitudes or routes as circumstances dictate.

Things a Commercial Pilot Should Know How to Do

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.

  • Aerial Advertiser
  • Rotor Pilot
  • Aerial Crop Duster
  • Aerial Hurricane Hunter
  • Spray Pilot

Is There Going to be 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. The BLS estimates 4,000 yearly job openings in this field.

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.

Commercial Pilot Salary

The salary for Commercial Pilots ranges between about $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 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

Tools & Technologies Used by Commercial Pilots

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

Education needed to be a Commercial Pilot:

Commercial Pilot Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become a Commercial Pilot?

Commercial Pilot Work Experience

Who Employs Commercial Pilots?

Commercial Pilot Sectors

Below are examples of industries where Commercial Pilots work:

Commercial Pilot Industries

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

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


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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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