Here’s How Much Money Pilots Earn In Every State

Pilots serve an indispensable role in our society, connecting Americans effortlessly with the rest of the country and the rest of the world. And yet, there are some legitimate concerns about long-term trends occurring in airline and commercial aviation. According to ABC7 News, many are worried about a looming national shortage of pilots due to a massive wave of mandatory retirements coming as pilots approach age 65. Globally, over the next 20 years, airlines will need 790,000 new pilots. In the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), over the 10 years from 2018 to 2028, employment of airline and commercial pilots will grow by 7,000, equivalent to a 6% increase, which is about as fast as the average for employment change across all occupations.

Using occupational data from the BLS, we’ve analyzed and compiled a round-up of the average pilot salary by state across the U.S. The BLS breaks pilot employment down into two main occupation categories:

  • Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers: Those who pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo; this requires a Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used; this category includes regional, national and international airline pilots.
  • Commercial pilots: Those who pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft on non-scheduled air carrier routes, requiring a Commercial Pilot certificate to operate; this category includes charter pilots with similar certification, and air ambulance and air tour pilots., but, significantly, excludes regional, national and international airline pilots.

Read on for a full breakdown of where pilots make the most money and where they’re making the least.

10 States Where Commercial Pilots Earn the Most Money

The national average annual wage of a commercial pilot is $102,870, according to the latest data from the BLS. This is nearly double the current average annual salary for all occupations, $53,490. As with most occupations, the average pilot salary can vary depending on geography, with some states featuring higher pay than others. Based on the latest occupational data from the BLS, here is a list of the top-10 highest-paying states for commercial pilots:

  1. New York average commercial pilot salary: $147,980
  2. Connecticut average commercial pilot salary: $144,100
  3. Georgia average commercial pilot salary: $140,500
  4. Alaska average commercial pilot salary: $121,080
  5. Florida average commercial pilot salary: $118,740
  6. Maryland average commercial pilot salary: $118,040
  7. Massachusetts average commercial pilot salary: $115,950
  8. Minnesota average commercial pilot salary: $113,890
  9. New Mexico average commercial pilot salary: $113,080
  10. California average commercial pilot salary: $108,580

Commercial pilot salaries showed particularly strong growth in No. 7 Massachusetts. From an average annual wage of $71,040 in 2014, the average commercial pilot salary grew by 63.2% to $115,950 in 2019. No. 4 Alaska also demonstrated impressive growth in commercial pilot salaries, increasing by 59.1% over the last five years: From $76,080 in 2014, up to $121,080 in 2019.

10 States Where Commercial Pilots Earn the Least Money

The bottom-10 states where commercial pilots make the least money are an interesting geographic mix of states of New England, the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest. Average annual wages for these 10 states range from $60,550 to $78,570, which means commercial pilots still beat the average annual wage for all occupations in each individual state. Here’s a list of the bottom-10 lowest-paying states for commercial pilots.

  1. Maine average commercial pilot salary: $60,550
  2. South Dakota average commercial pilot salary: $68,110
  3. Wisconsin average commercial pilot salary: $68,970
  4. Utah average commercial pilot salary: $70,960
  5. Indiana average commercial pilot salary: $74,430
  6. Oregon average commercial pilot salary: $74,840
  7. Wyoming average commercial pilot salary: $77,080
  8. New Hampshire average commercial pilot salary: $77,220
  9. West Virginia average commercial pilot salary: $77,420
  10. Montana average commercial pilot salary: $78,570

Salaries for commercial pilots in these states also have been weak on growth or have even declined over the last five years. The average commercial pilot salary in Wisconsin declined by 4.4%, from $72,140 in 2014, down to $68,970 in 2019. West Virginia also witnessed a decline in commercial pilot salaries, with the average annual wage falling by 3.5%, from $80,260 in 2014 to $77,420 in 2019.

10 States Where Airline Pilots Earn the Most Money

Airline pilots earn an average annual wage of $174,870, according to the BLS, more than triple the average annual wage for all occupations, $53,490. In the 10 states where airline pilot salaries are the highest, the average annual wage can be more than $200,000, although these states are very exceptional. Here’s a list of the top-10 highest-paying states for airline pilots.

  1. Michigan average airline pilot salary: $238,270
  2. Nevada average airline pilot salary: $234,750
  3. Washington average airline pilot salary: $234,060
  4. Florida average airline pilot salary: $226,930
  5. Oregon average airline pilot salary: $214,100
  6. California average airline pilot salary: $208,070
  7. Illinois average airline pilot salary: $194,810
  8. Colorado average airline pilot salary: $186,620
  9. Texas average airline pilot salary: $183,000
  10. Alaska average airline pilot salary: $171,030

The average annual wage for airline pilots in Michigan has grown substantially, from $114,640 in 2015 to $238,270, for a four-year increase of 107.8%. In Washington, the average airline pilot salary has also risen dramatically, from $97,290 in 2015 to $234,060, an increase of 140.6%.

10 States Where Airline Pilots Earn the Least Money

Airline pilot salaries in these 10 states are still much higher than the average annual wage for all occupations. However, the difference between the average airline pilot salary in these 10 states and the top-paying 10 states is significant. Here’s a list of the bottom-10 lowest-paying states for airline pilots:

  1. Tennessee average airline pilot salary: $88,540
  2. South Carolina average airline pilot salary: $96,310
  3. Mississippi average airline pilot salary: $98,660
  4. Georgia average airline pilot salary: $99,640
  5. Wisconsin average airline pilot salary: $100,470
  6. Pennsylvania average airline pilot salary: $102,880
  7. Rhode Island average airline pilot salary: $103,900
  8. Minnesota average airline pilot salary: $104,050
  9. Nebraska average airline pilot salary: $104,150
  10. Idaho average airline pilot salary: $104,260

According to the BLS data, the average annual wage for airline pilots in Georgia has fallen by 31.3% over the last five years: From $145,060 in 2014, down to $99,640 in 2019. In Tennessee, which has the lowest average airline pilot salary, the average annual wage has declined by 6.8%: From $95,000 in 2014, down to $88,540 in 2019.

Here’s How Much Pilots Earn in Each U.S. State

Below you’ll find two tables, one listing all the states and their respective average commercial pilot salaries from 2014 to 2019; the other lists the average airline pilot salaries. BLS data was more limited in regards to airline pilot salaries, only having 2019 data available for 34 states out of 50. For commercial pilot salaries, the BLS had 2019 data for 48 states.

Here’s how much commercial airline pilots earn in each state:

Here’s how much airline pilots earn in each state:

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