Senior Captains Earn the Most Airline Pilot Salary

Major Airline Pilot Salary First Officer and Captain Pay in 2023

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The table below shows which airline pays pilots the most.

First Officer
(Year 1)
Captain
(Year 6)
Captain
(Year 12)
Salary for United Airlines Pilots
Salary for United Airlines Pilots
$93,820 $282,400 $298,456
Salary for Delta Air Lines Pilots
Salary for Delta Air Lines Pilots
$100,840 $285,460 $346,636
Salary for American Airlines Pilots
Salary for American Airlines Pilots
$98,800 $289,540 $361,096
Salary for FedEx Pilots
Salary for FedEx Pilots
$95,596 $270,160 $373,432
Salary for UPS Pilots
Salary for UPS Pilots
$58,336 $317,080 $351,400
Salary for Southwest Airlines Pilots
Salary for Southwest Airlines Pilots
$95,800 $268,120 $294,892
Estimates based on flying a 737 for 85 hours per month and an additional $7,000 annual per diem. Note: these numbers are approximations and are not promises of future earnings.

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The payoff in aviation comes when one becomes a captain for a major airline flying wide-body A350 aircraft.

First Officer1 Captain
(Narrow-Body)1
Captain
(Wide-Body)2*
Year 1 $100,840 $273,220 $338,500
Year 6 $187,540 $283,420 $351,760
Year 12 $204,880 $296,680 $368,080
Estimates based on Delta Air Lines pilots flying a 7371 , or an A3502 for 85 hours per month and an additional $7,000 annual per diem. Note: these numbers are approximations and are not promises of future earnings. * Only the most senior pilots will hold this position.

Commercial Airline Pilot — A Nine Million Dollar Career

With union protections and seniority system, job security and guaranteed earnings, advancement at the established airlines are excellent. Established airline pilots are paid very well, with the annual earnings of senior captains around $400,000, some pilots can expect a nine million dollar career in total earnings, illustrated below according to the typical career progression.

Commercial Pilot Salary Chart Over a Pilot's Career

*Graph based on SkyWest Airlines and Delta Air Lines pay scales and are for illustration purposes, not promises of future earnings.

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