Working as a private pilot can prove lucrative, whether hired for businesses to take executives to various destinations or being employed by a celebrity. After investing in certifiable education in flight training, and receiving a pilot license, there are more than just monetary perks. Read on to learn more.

Private Pilot Salary And Benefits

pilot on a plane

Flying planes and earning a handsome salary may not just be a dream when you are working as a private pilot.

Thanks to a shortage of certified pilots, private pilot salary has increased because of the demand and need for pilots. Instead of working for a commercial airline, a pilot working privately may operate a jet for corporate clients, celebrities, or may even conduct sightseeing tours.

To configure private pilot salary, earnings depend on years of experience, and the type of client hiring the pilot for their services.

Private pilot salary may vary, whether a pilot is working domestically, or for a foreign agency. Certain places, such as China have lured pilots with lucrative monetary compensation in exchange for their skills.

Not all pilots wished to be tied down to a demanding employer and may choose to earn a private pilot's license for recreational or personal reasons.

Learning how to fly an aircraft safely requires a significant commitment regarding time and money. However, if someone wishes to live out their dream of flying planes and taking to the skies whenever they please, and for the highest paying client, it is well worth the investment.

What encourages people to choose the path of being a private pilot? It's the perks.

  • Being able to fly an aircraft is a highly sought-after skill set, and pilots can command high earnings
  • Private pilots can rent an aircraft or utilize their client's private aircraft
  • The ability to soar over visually stunning destinations and make exotic destinations a second home

Working as a private pilot can be a little lonely at times, depending on how many hours a pilot commits to working. Pilots may spend a lot of time in the air when traveling internationally, or making frequent domestic trips, which require some mental fortitude and dedication.

Who Hires A Private Pilot

private pilot

So, if a private pilot is not solely living for recreational flying, or hooking up with a flight club to enjoy engaging in aeronautical acrobatics, who is hiring?

Some pilots may dream of flying for a celebrity who is willing to pay a hefty sum to live lavishly and travel in style. However, most private pilots are hired by private corporate interests.

To be a viable candidate for a private pilot position, the following things should be present.

  • Pilots should have a certified license and applicable hours of training and safety instruction
  • Pilots should have excellent vision, problem-solving skills, and effectively communicate
  • Attention to detail, adherence to safety regulations, and excellent customer service is a must

Private pilots may be hired by corporations who need to have their executives taxied to a location for a meeting, conference, or for secure travel away from the public. Professional sports teams, celebrities, and persons of interest seeking private transport by flight will hire a pilot.

Pilots who are hired by a client or small company can enjoy some autonomy and flexibility with their career. Displaying an affable demeanor and intrapersonal skills are useful when working so closely with a client. Pilots may develop friendships with the people who hire them, and they become a reliable service provider. 

Occupational Expectations

Although there may be a risk of mechanical failure or a crash, the chance of such a thing happening is slight with a certified and safe pilot behind the controls.

Pilots are expected to utilize safety checks and must be able to keep a level head when flying through different types of weather patterns, over varying terrain, and be able to adjust as necessary.

A private pilot may be hired to fly a small aircraft for an hour or more. Longer flights may require larger and more expensive aircraft but will command a higher pay rate for services rendered.

To prevent fatigue and lowered performance, pilots are usually regulated to the number of hours they can legally fly an aircraft. Depending if a pilot takes on a short flight or long flight, a set period of rest between trips may be enforced.

Having to adjust to different time zones, working a job with early starts and late endings, and being away from friends and family often can take its toll.

However, private pilots do enjoy brushing shoulders with A-list members of society, traveling to distant and beautiful locations, and even getting time to hang out in quality hotels and restaurants.

Required Education To Become A Private Pilot

Most pilots working privately are often ex-military and receive their flight training working within a branch of the armed services. However, a pilot can choose to attend a flight school to get their chops to sit behind the controls in the cockpit.

To gain a private pilot license, pilots must have 20/20 vision, be in sound body and mind, and be 18 years of age or older. Pilots are expected to undergo about 250 hours of flight time to be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Pilots who have earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical sciences or aviation are sought-after by companies and clients. A pilot should have demonstrated an ability to fly various types of aircraft comfortably, operate an aircraft safely, and show a professional demeanor at all times.

According to the AOPA, private pilots must have a minimum of 40 hours spent in flight, but the average time is usually closer to 70 hours.

Private pilots may have credentials and experience to fly a helicopter, multi-engine plane, jet plane, and other types of aircraft.

All private pilots are expected to have an up-to-date Class III medical, which is to be renewed every period of 24 to 36 months. Certifications for pilots should be re-evaluated for validation every 24 month period with a certified flight instructor.

Salary Outlook For Pilots

A private pilot is responsible for the financial commitment needed to gain flight experience, get an instrument rating, and will have to afford their own uniforms. Training can be challenging, and not all candidates are capable of becoming a full-fledged certified private pilot.

Similar to commercial pilots, a private pilot can earn a considerable amount of income for their services.

Airline pilots are paid by the hour and may be limited to flying 1,000 hours a year to keep them in top condition.  A pilot may jump at the chance to fly an aircraft overseas for 15 hours each way, because of the earnings attached.

Private pilots can earn around $100,000 annually for working a set schedule.

Usually, commercial pilots who may not know when they will be taking a flight until called. Private pilots have better control over their schedule and get to visit airports that are not well known or traveled by commercial pilots.

Countries located in Asia and the Middle East that are experiencing a shortage in applicable pilots have offered private pilots upward of $16,000 a month to work. Housing may be provided by the hiring company or client, or a pilot may receive a housing allowance for accommodations.

Interested In Being A Private Pilot

aircraft switches

Learning how to fly an aircraft takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort.

Pilots are expected to know the correct terminology for weather patterns, utilize the radio to communicate with air traffic control and adhere to safety standards as set by the FAA. Failure to follow safety precautions or negligence may result in stiff penalties.

Private pilots should be comfortable with varying aircraft systems, understand the functions and maintenance of aircraft, and be ready for in-depth, hands-on learning.

It is expected that pilots should understand what is required to fly safely during the daytime or nighttime for trips and to be able to comprehend minimum altitudes for specific weather patterns and routes.

Understanding aerodynamics, physics, and being able to read different types of flight charts help a pilot gain the information they need to calculate fuel needs and chart a course for a trip.

As pilots do share the airways with other flights commercial, recreational, and private, effective communication and safe operation is of utmost importance at all times. Pilots in the air are expected to report on their position and any pertinent information to air traffic control at least once an hour.

In case of an unforeseen emergency, mechanical failure, or sudden change in weather, a private pilot is expected to be able to safely taxi their passengers and any packages to a safe destination.

Private pilots are often responsible for incurring the cost of fuel, aircraft rental, and other applicable costs as needed for their client. The cost for flying an aircraft privately is often split between the pilot and whoever hires for flight services.

Flying privately is an excellent opportunity for retired commercial pilots, or for anyone who enjoys the freedom of taking to the skies as their chosen occupation. The salary and perks for being a private pilot are considerably higher than expected, and are justly deserved for such a specific and in-demand skill set.

Working as a private pilot is an in-demand position with many various benefits.

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