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Career Paths for Commercially-Licensed Pilots

The ability to fly aircraft has been a venerated skill since the first plane was invented in 1903. After the first functional planes emerged, flight technology was quickly improved, aiding worldwide military efforts and creating the industry of commercial air travel. Now, possessing a pilot’s license can open a number of gainful doors for aircraft operators. 

As one of the premier flight schools in California and Utah, FLT Academy focuses on the future of students. Our instructors are profession-minded, preparing future pilots for rewarding careers, not just checking the boxes that enable them to receive an underutilized credential. The truth is, there are a wealth of opportunities for pilots, all of which can provide both enjoyment and financial stability. Here are just a few. 

Corporate Pilot

For many pilots, corporate flying is the long-term goal. Corporate pilots typically work with a smaller and more exclusive clientele. The standard duties of a corporate pilot are to transport products or company personnel, such as corporate executives, to domestic or overseas locations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects steady growth in the industry over the next several years as the need for qualified pilots increases. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for corporate pilots is $73,773 with the higher end making well over six figures in annual earnings. 

Charter and Private Pilot

For those who want to work for themselves, the charter or private pilot route may be the way to go. Air taxi services have proven quite profitable in tourist areas and often add a level of charm that passengers don’t experience on commercial flights. Depending on the aircraft, charter/private pilots can be hired for regional flights, contracting with companies, individuals, or government entities. 

Cargo Pilot

Although cargo pilots and corporate pilots are often one and the same, it’s not always the case. Cargo pilots help the world get what it orders and often receive salaries that are considerably higher than passenger planes. A career as a cargo pilot is low-contact, meaning teams of 1 to 3 are typical and passengers are uncommon. 

Emergency and Rescue Pilot

It is safe to say that this is a life-saving career path. Emergency and rescue pilots essentially operate air ambulances, taking people’s lives into their hands as they transport them to nearby care centers. Although rescue pilots often operate small aircraft that can navigate more punishing terrain, pilots must usually be qualified and rated to fly commercially before being eligible for consideration. Top earners can make over $100,000 annually. 

Flight Instructor

According to Payscale, flight instructors earn a median salary of $60,000 per year teaching future pilots how to operate aircraft. For those who like to impart their knowledge while still taking to the skies, a career as an instructor may be the right path. With a commercial pilot’s license, instructors will have knowledge of many different aircraft and be able to refine their skills as well as those of their students. 

Commercial Airline Pilot

The world needs commercial pilots like never before. The industry is growing and offering fantastic opportunities and benefits to pilots. Not only does commercial flying pay a median salary of $82,240, but pilots get tremendous flight benefits and often flexible schedules. 

At FLT Academy, we partner with SkyWest Airlines making it easier than ever to land a paying job after obtaining a commercial pilot’s license in California or Utah. Although it might seem like a scary time to think about a career in aviation, it’s actually one of the best times to start. Taking a small leap of faith now can set you up for a lucrative career in the future. Find out more about how you can get started on your new career path at FLT Academy.