Being a pilot can be a very rewarding career, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Pilots undergo intensive training to develop a highly unique skill set. As a result, many pilots are well paid. Like in other professions, most salaries these days include more than just monetary remuneration.
Whether you’re a new pilot or looking to move your career to a different airline, there are several factors to consider when presented with a salary, including payments and perks that are part of your job package.
When inquiring about the salary for a particular role, make sure you ask the following:
What currency the salary will be paid in.
Is the salary quoted gross or net?
Are there additional payments, and are they paid at the same time as your basic salary?
Are the basic salary and additional payments paid in the same currency?
Pilots can earn overtime, which is calculated over a particular hour at a set rate and by doing so, can earn 100 – 300% increases by working on their days off. The airline for which the pilot works often pays these rates just to make sure a scheduled flight happens.
An allowance may be provided if accommodation is not available while you’re on base. However, many pilots do not live where they are based and choose to commute. When on a trip, the airline handles and pays for accommodations for pilots.
Some packages may offer a travel allowance to assist you in booking flights home on your days off. Other travel benefits not in the form of an allowance include flights on the network provided, ID or ZED tickets.
The number of days off and vacation days vary from airline to airline and are negotiated into most pilot contracts. All airlines have vacation days for pilots and it usually starts with 2 weeks after the first year and after a certain amount of time, increases to 4 – 6 weeks.
Your airline will usually provide a free shuttle bus between your accommodation and the airport. If you live out of accommodation you can receive a monthly transport allowance.
Airlines typically pay for lodging when a pilot has to stay away from home overnight. The amount paid is dependent on the length of stay, cost of living at destination, and may differ if you have to stay the night overseas.
While on a trip pilots are often paid a separate rate meant to cover their expenses while on that trip. Employers usually pay for accommodations and transportation during trips, this additional rate is meant for food and miscellaneous expenses and is known as per diem. A per diem is paid out based on time away from base.
This may be quarterly, yearly or at the end of the contract or can also be a signing bonus Signing bonuses have become more common, especially with regional airlines. Some airlines even provide an end of service bonus. This is paid as a lump sum when you leave the company.
In addition to the pilot's hourly wage, he or she often receives a pay stipend during the training period. This may differ to your basic salary so it is worth enquiring about.
Unlike many professions, pilots don’t earn a flat annual salary. Instead, they’re paid an hourly wage for each flight hour flown. Most airlines guarantee a minimum number of hours per month so that pilots can count on at least a minimum amount of monthly income, ensuring you’ll have a paycheck even when the flight is grounded.
Looking at all of the benefits included in your contract could mean that you earn substantially more each month. When calculating your actual pay, always remember to include your total benefits package to understand the value of your compensation. So be sure to get all the details. These can sometimes be tax-free too, so it’s always worth asking your recruiter about them.
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