Is regional starting pay negotiable for individuals with the minimum required flight time, in addition to a master’s degree and non-pilot military aircraft maintenance officer experience? I’m specifically asking about wages, not seniority.
Right now I am earning $80-100k with potential for $120k by the time I would finish the remainder of my flight training and get hired onto the regionals (I’m already out of the military). I’m less concerned about seniority and more curious what my financial situation would look like transitioning. I would expect to take a significant pay cut, but I understand the first year at a regional has a total pay of ~$60k (sign-on bonuses) and the second year is less. That’s a big pill to swallow considering my current salary. I’m debating foregoing the airlines and continuing down a path of just retiring earlier, buying a cheap SE piston, and enjoying general aviation. I would prefer to stick around $60-70k each year, not just the first year before working my way back up.
Question 1: With the current pilot shortage, is salary semi-negotiable for the right candidate regardless of hours logged? Up to $60-65k each year while starting at bottom seniority?
I understand that if I want to fly, I shouldn’t be too worried about money, but please keep in mind that I’m not straight out of college and living with roomates. The first five years making $50k vs $65k makes a difference of a spouse having to work, childcare, etc. I just don’t know enough about the airlines/union and whether or not it’s a realistic opportunity to transition down to that salary versus forging ahead to retiring early and buying my own plane.
Question 2: Is there a reserve type of program in the airlines/charter that would be another option for me to keep my current career? Similar to military reserves, but for civilian?
Thanks in advance for any help!