Life as a First Year FO

I was wondering how life is as a 1st year FO. Being at the lowest seniority levels and only paid 40k/year, does it require you to make a lot of low-cost choices? I also get that being an airline pilot is a job that requires sacrifices, so being at the lowest seniority level is the schedule really bad, or only worse than normal?

As always, this question is hard to answer since there are too many variables to account for and everyone seems to have their own interpretation of quality of life.

To give you some perspective, I was hired April 2017. I’m based in SEA and live 30 minutes from the airport. My situation is unusual because I’ve only had 1 day of reserve. I got lucky. Had I been hired February 2018, I would still be on reserve.

As far as lifestyle, I definitely had to make some frugal decisions, but I’m used to that. Living frugally is all I’ve known.

The takeaway should be that first year pay is livable. Especially when you account for the signing bonuses. Horizon for example is offering up to $25k. That’s before taxes, but still. That’s at least 5 months worth of living expenses in itself. That’s more than enough.



Life as a first year FO only paid $40k a year is more than twice as good being a new FO only getting paid $18K which is what I received.


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How times have changed! It’s a shame that a professional aviator was paid that to begin with. Though the office view is stunning, nonetheless!