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With a pilot’s license, what jobs are out there?

Newly minted commercial pilot Aaron Leerdam, right, shakes hands with Don, his examiner.
Newly minted commercial pilot Aaron Leerdam, right, shakes hands with Don, his examiner. [ Crossairocean Flight School ]
Published Oct. 24

Not everyone is cut out for university. But that’s OK, because there are less expensive, more targeted alternatives. You can learn a profession as an apprentice or intern, you can go to trade school or community college, or you can follow a passion, like flying.

Acquiring a pilot’s license at Crossairocean Flight School in Zephyrhills, FL, is the first step on a path to wherever you want it to take you: You can use it simply for the freedom to fly a private plane for pleasure in the U.S. Or you can take it even further and turn it into a profession. It depends on your personal and professional goals, and how much time and money you’re willing to spend.

Many people stop at the private pilot’s license, because all they wanted was to be able to fly in the U.S. for pleasure. If you’d like to turn it into a profession, that will require more instruction, certifications, and flying time, at a higher overall cost. That said, it’s still less expensive than many colleges, and will ultimately pay for itself with healthy starting salaries and the built-in pleasure of flying.

Earning your Instrument Rating is typically the next rating pilots earn after getting their Private Pilot License. The Instrument Rating will build confidence and expand the flight territory where a pilot can safely and legally operate. Crossairocean’s instructors will teach you, at your own pace, how to fly safely in inclement weather under Instrument Flight Rule (IFR). Their Instrument Rating course is designed to teach pilots to operate aircraft in low-visibility environments, such as heavy cloud cover or rain.

The next step is the Commercial Certificate. The Commercial Certificate marks a major milestone in a pilot’s journey. Considered by many as the culmination of a student’s flight training experience, new commercial pilots are certified to fly for hire and earn money for the skills they have developed. Completing your Commercial Pilot Certificate begins to open many doors such as flying charter flights, piloting scenic flights, or becoming a flight instructor (with a little more training).

When determining the earning potential of a commercial pilot, the two main factors that are highly considered are the pilot’s experience level and the number of flight hours the pilot has accumulated. Most higher-paying jobs are looking for pilots with over 1,500 hrs of flight time; so pilots would use the lower-paying jobs as a stepping stone to accumulate the hours needed for the higher-paying job.

The following salaries are estimates; variations depend on years of experience, education and certifications, location, and the type of aircraft:

Less than 1,500 hrs of flight time

A flight instructor in the U.S. can expect to earn around $25,000 to $75,000 a year.

Aerial Firefighting (About $40,000 to $100,000)/year

Crop Dusting (About $35,000 to $100,000, with an average of $80,000)/year

Aerial Mosquito Spraying / control (About $30,000 to $50,000)/year

Banner Towing (About $20,000-$35,000)/year

Transporting Skydivers (About $20,000-$40,000)/year

Aircraft Sales (About $50,000 to $100,000)/year

Aerial Survey Pilot (About $40,000 to $100,000)/year

Pipeline Patrol Pilot (About $30,000 to $95,000)/year

More than 1,500 hrs of flight time

Regional Airline pilot (About $50,000-$95,000)/year

Corporate Jet pilot (About $80,000-$250,000)/year

An airline pilot in the U.S. can expect to make somewhere in the range of $95,000 to $370,000 a year

A charter pilot in the U.S. can expect to make somewhere in the range of $50,000 to $135,000 a year.

Still uncertain? Read Aaron Leerdam’s testimonial about Crossairocean:

“Thank you to Crossairocean for helping me acquire my Instrument, Commercial and Multi-Engine licenses and rating. I was their first Instrument, Commercial Single and Multi student and am proud to have been. With about 250 hours total time I started my instrument training in February 2022 and it took me about a month of preparation to be ready for the checkride. From the end of March through the end of May, I was able to be prepared for my Commercial Single and Multi-Engine checkride. It is close to impossible to find a school that is as affordable as they are and gets you ready in such a short time.

“I am currently flying as a Commercial Pilot back home on the island of Sint Maarten. Training at Crossairocean was amazing – from super-clean well-maintained aircraft that are always online to safe and fun flying, this school stands out! I definitely recommend Cross Air Ocean Flight School to anyone who would like to get their wings, whether for recreational purposes or commercial.

“Thank you, Crossairocean, for making it possible to achieve my dream of being a safe, confident, and well-trained commercial pilot.”

To learn more about Crossairocean Flight School in Zephyrhills, call them at 352-737-0800, visit them in person at 39317 Airpark Road, or online at crossairoceanusa.com.


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