Job census data from May 2012, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, suggests an average annual salary of $73,280 for private and commercial pilots. Airline pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers on average make more than private pilots at approximately $114,500 per year.
The salary of a private or commercial pilot varies with four factors: seniority, type of aircraft flown, size of the company serviced and city of residence. Larger cities tend to have higher costs of living, raising the average salaries for pilots in those areas. They are also home to larger companies that generally pay more. Operating larger aircraft is more technically demanding and increases salary commensurately. Finally, piloting experience raises salary; pilots with 20 years of experience on average make $20,000 to $50,000 more than less-experienced ones.