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How to Make Money With a Pilot's License

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While many pilot's license holders work at commercial airlines shuttling passengers between U.S. or foreign cities, others fly for freight carriers or for private air services. Still others work in careers where a license is secondary.

Major Airlines' Pilots

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 57,840 pilots working for major airlines as of May 2012. The industry offers a healthy median wage of $130,410 for these pilots. Opportunities are growing, too. The BLS predicts that the industry will add 11,500 positions between 2010 and 2020.

Commercial Pilots

If you don't want to work for a major airline, commercial pilot work may be right for you. As a commercial pilot you could pilot a charter flight to the Bahamas, shuttle executives between a corporate headquarters and a factory or rush an injured person to a trauma center. Commercial pilots earned a median salary $73,280 per year as of May 2012 and are counted in the total of 11,500 new pilot positions predicted by the BLS through 2020.

Other Commercial Pilot Positions

You don't have to fly passengers as a commercial pilot, though. Some commercial pilots work in flight training, where they work in the air or on the ground teaching new pilots how to safely operate an aircraft. As a commercial pilot, you can do other work from the air, too. With a pilot's license and some additional training or equipment, you could become an aerial photographer or surveyor.

Beyond Flying Careers

A pilot's license can also be helpful in careers that aren't directly related to flying. If you are a businessperson who frequently serves clients who aren't conveniently reached by scheduled air flights, a pilot's license could make you more productive. Other pilots use their experience to broker airplanes. There have even been instances of rural doctors using a pilot's license to more effectively serve their patients.


Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.

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