The average median pay for a commercial or airline pilot in 2012 was $98,410 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest-paid pilots made more than $187,200 while the lowest-paid earned $66,970 or less.
Specific jobs within the industry paid significantly less than the median wage, notes the BLS. For example, pilots working for ambulance services made an average of $69,700, while those working for employers providing nonscheduled air transportation made $73,600. The entry-level wage for pilots just starting out is around $20,000 annually, while captains at major airlines earn an average of $135,000. Captains at regional airlines bring home an average of $55,000 yearly.