Ever watched a private jet taxi down the runway and wonder about the person behind the controls? I certainly have.
As someone who spent a few years living in Scottsdale, Arizona where private aviation was a common site, I’ve always been fascinated by private jets and the ecosystem around them, especially the pilots.
Here’s what I’ve found out about how much private jet pilots make, why their earnings vary, and a little insight into this unique profession.
What’s in a Private Jet Pilot’s Paycheck?
The salary of a private jet pilot is something that intrigued me a lot.
I’d be lying if I said I never thought about quitting my job and pursuing it myself.
According to ZipRecruiter, as of August 7, 2023, the average annual pay for a private jet pilot in the United States is $99,206.
That’s about $47.70 an hour or $8,267 a month.
But the numbers can swing wildly, ranging from less than $30,000 to $160,000+ depending on experience.
Below we’ll dive into some factors that influence which part of the salary band pilots fall into.
The Factors Behind the Figures
Those numbers, though intriguing, made me wonder: Why such a vast range? A little more digging revealed the factors, which are pretty similar to any other professions:
- Experience: More years in the cockpit often translate to a fatter paycheck.
- Aircraft Type: Flying more complex jets can mean more money. The pilot who flies a smaller plane like Taylor Swift’s Dassault Falcon likely commands a smaller paycheck than the captain in charge of Drake’s full size 767. Bigger planes usually equal longer flights which equal more chances for something to go wrong. This is why it’s important for captains of larger plans to have years of experience and emergency training.
- Location: Where you fly and who you fly for matters a lot. Private pilots in New York City can likely command a higher salary than ones in New Mexico.
- Balance: Some prefer a better work-life balance, even if it means less pay.
Hear From a Real Pilot
For a great real world breakdown of a pilot’s pay schedule and career progression, I’d recommend you watch this video by Gulfstream G650 pilot Ryan Huber who’s very transparent about his experience.
He discusses exactly how much he’s made at different private pilot jobs, and also shares some common pay scales and stats.
Private vs. Commercial: Why Make the Switch?
Why would someone choose private aviation over commercial airlines? It’s not just about the money. Here’s what I learned:
- Personal Connections: Building relationships with regular clients can be rewarding.
- Flexibility: The schedules can be less rigid, allowing for personal time.
- Unique Opportunities: Flying private means going to places commercial jets don’t. Exciting, isn’t it?
So, the next time you see a private jet gliding down the runway, you’ll know a bit more about the world behind those tinted windows.
It’s more than just glitz; it’s a world filled with education, professional challenges and growth, and personal triumphs.
And for those who stick to it, there are some decent paychecks waiting, especially when considering you get to fly around the world all day!