Love to Fly? A projected pilot shortage means there are lots of job openings

Emirates Launches Daily A380 Flights From Dubai To Munich
Getty Images | Alexander Hassenstein

Love flying the friendly skies? Maybe you should consider getting your pilot’s license—a pilot job shortage is projected to seriously shock the aviation industry in the next two decades. As air travel continues to grow, employment as a pilot is a steady and secure position.

CNN reports that the United States will soon be facing a difficult pilot shortage. More than 42 percent of active U.S. airline pilots will retire over the next 10 years, which leaves about 22,000 open positions (it’s mandated that pilots retire at 65, for safety reasons). Air travel is growing, with passenger and cargo airlines worldwide projected to buy a whopping 41,000 new airliners between 2017 and 2036. As it stands now, 87 new pilots will need to be trained every day in order to meet this flourishing demand.

Pilot training for commercial work varies, with two-year degree, four-year degree and certificate options available to interested people. There are quite a few different pilot training programs around the country, some of which allow you to earn your commercial pilot’s license in just over a year. Joining the Air Force’s Career Pilot program after earning your bachelor’s degree will give you both training and experience, with an optional bonus program that can pay out over $455,000 over 13 years.

Anyone who is paid to fly must have a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration. Most pilots have thousands of hours of experience in the air before being hired—newly hired pilots at major airlines usually have about 4,000 hours of flight experience under their belts before you ever see them at the airport.

Getty Images | Joe Raedle

The benefits of being a pilot are many—not only do you get to travel for free, you also get medical and other health benefits, hotel stays and more. Right now, many aviation companies are offering large bonuses and increased hourly rates to attract workers. American, Delta, and United have all recently negotiated with their pilots to increase wages. Higher salaries are projected to grow as the shortage increases.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates median pay for airline pilots around $105,720 per year. For other commercial pilots (who often fly charter flights, rescue operations and other non-airline flights) the median pay is about $77,000.

So, the next time you’re in the air, imagine yourself in the pilot cabin. Flying planes as a pilot could be the exciting, high-paying, and fast-growing career you’ve always dreamed of.

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Carrie Murphy


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