Corporate Pilot: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for corporate pilots. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Corporate Pilot?

Corporate pilots may work for a company that is hired to provide private transportation services via jet or they may work for a large multinational corporation. Their primary task is to transport corporate executives to visits or meetings. In addition to filing flight plans, corporate pilots perform inspections on the craft before take off. They are responsible for ensuring the engine and instruments are in working order and that the plane has enough fuel for the scheduled flight. During flight, they operate the craft using the navigation equipment and communicate with air traffic control regarding any concerns or requests to alter course or change altitude due to turbulence or poor weather.

Education Required High school diploma and flight training program
Key Responsibilities Prepare and file flight plans; communicate with and take direction from control towers; operate aircraft on the ground and in the air; respond to changing weather and ground conditions, changes in aircraft and emergencies
Licensure and Certification Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot license is required; instrument rating is required
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% for all commercial pilots*
Median Salary (2019) $97,927 for corporate jet pilots**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Can a Corporate Pilot Expect to Earn?

Factors such as seniority, the type of aircraft you fly and the industry of your employer will affect the salary you earn. reports that as of November 2019, most corporate jet pilots earned a salary in the range of $58,000-$161,000.

By industry, commercial pilots working for scenic and sightseeing transportation companies earned a mean salary of $70,590 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also indicated that those working for ambulatory health care services earned $88,540. Support activities for water transportation earned $143,810, while commercial pilots working in navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing earned $142,360.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

You will have separate duties before, during and after each flight. Your pre-flight time will be taken up with preparation. This includes devising and filing a flight plan, monitoring weather forecasts, making sure a plane's flight systems are in working order, loading in-flight meals and other cargo if any and refueling.

During flights, you are responsible for taking off safely, maintaining control of the plane in the air, following the flight plan, making adjustments for turbulence or bad weather and landing safely. After a flight you must store the plane in a hangar, write and file an incident report and make sure the plane receives whatever maintenance it needs.

Flights may consist of a single round trip or multiple legs to different cities, with layovers lasting hours or a day. If your company owns one plane you are likely to have an irregular schedule. You may get to fly a more regular schedule if your company owns a fleet of planes or if you work for an operation that leases a single plane to many companies.

Who Could I Work For?

Businesses that lease planes, own planes or own fleets of planes are potential employers. BLS statistics show there were an estimated 39,760 commercial pilots in the U.S. in 2015. Figures for the number working as corporate pilots weren't available.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of commercial pilots as a broad category will grow 10% from 2014-2024 ( However, any change in employment of corporate pilots will depend on how many businesses opt for private air transport over standard passenger carriers.

What Training Do I Need?

You can obtain the necessary training for a pilot's license from private flight schools or from 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions affiliated with a private flight school. Training consists of practice time in the air controlling a real plane and classroom study or ground school. The actual planes you learn to fly will depend on the school, but a comprehensive program will have several types of single engine and multi-engine aircraft.

Aircraft systems, basic maneuvers, advanced maneuvers, night flying, navigation and instrument flying are among the techniques and topics covered in flight training. Ground school will also cover meteorology, navigation and instruments as well as geography, air traffic control and FAA regulations. Obtaining a pilot's license requires a minimum of 250 hours of flight experience and passage of a practical exam and written exam. Licensure for instrument flying requires 40 more hours of instrument flight time and passage of practical and written exams on instrument flight.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Helicopter pilots and air traffic controllers are professions that are similar to a corporate pilot. Helicopter pilots need the required hours of flight time and training - which usually can be obtained through a degree program - to be licensed for the type of work they do. Like corporate pilots they may file flight plans, perform maintenance checks on their craft and communicate with air traffic control as needed. Air traffic controllers do not operate planes; however, they help guide pilots to ensure that they remain safe at all stages of the flight. They monitor the location of aircraft, communicate with pilots about any concerns and approve course alterations in the event of poor weather or proximity to another aircraft or structure. Air traffic controllers typically need at least an associate's degree.

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