Pros and Cons of Being a Pilot

What are some pros and cons of being a Commercial Airline Pilot ? Additionally;

How did you get to become a pilot?
How much do you earn?
How many hours do you work a day / week?
Do you get holidays?
Do you have to be particularly skilled
What key skills are required for the job?


Spend some time browsing through these forums because many of these questions are answered in great detail. But for a very abbreviated answer:

  1. Pros and cons: pro, getting paid to fly airplanes and travel around the US/world. Con: it’s a long and expensive road. It doesn’t just end when you make it to the regionals, you’re still paying off a very large loan. Seniority is relative and takes time to build. You gain some as a regional FO, then bid captain and go back to the bottom. Then get hired by a major and go back to the bottoms of the seniority list again. It’s an amazing career, but it takes time before it really gets good. Patience is key.
  2. ATP flight school. All the mentors are program graduates
  3. Earn: depends on where you’re flying. At the regionals the average pay is about $90/hr for new hires which is $97k a year before taxes. There are captain positions on wide body aircraft that could bring home closer to $400k a year.
  4. Hours: DEPENDS ON SENIORITY. If you’re new, you have the min 12 days off a month, working all the weekends and holidays. Expect long days on reserve and minimum time off. As you gain seniority you can bid for efficient trips, with weekends off and make your schedule how you like. Every trip is different, every day is different. This isn’t a M-F 9-5.
  6. Skills: you need to be able to maintain a first class medical, have good hand eye coordination and good decision making. You need to be able to make a commitment to a long term goal and put in the work to be successful. Flying is a unique skill that doesn’t take a rocket scientist but don’t think everyone can do it or should do it. That’s what an intro flight is for.


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  1. Pros: Getting paid really well to do something I’d pay to do. Tremendous job satisfaction. Seeing the world. High level of respect.
    Cons: Expensive to start and requires sacrifice. Being away from home.

  2. ATP. I started late at 39 and there simply was no better or faster route to the airlines.

  3. ALOT. There are plenty of sites that show pilot pay rates.

  4. Most pilots work 15 days a month. Senior pilots work less, junior pilots work more.

  5. After you build seniority you can get holidays off but don’t plan on that for years.

  6. While it’s not rocket science or brain surgery, you do need a certain level of intelligence and coordination. Good decision making skills particularly under pressure are required.



Great questions, but as Hannah has answered, you should spend some time browsing this forum. There are subcategory of our ‘Schedules’ and ‘Flying the Line’ which include a lot of these answers, along with the FAQ.

  1. Pros/Cons: If you love to fly and it’s a passion, you’re getting paid to partake in a passion that you love to do. It’s not a job unless you make it one, if you love doing what you do, waking and showing up on time is not difficult. It may take time to build a quality of life especially if you want to live in a specific area, the airlines emphasize around seniority.

  2. I started out at a smaller scale “mom and pop” school with my Private Pilot Certificate, then attended ATP. All of our experiences and stuff are located in our ‘Biographies’ (I recommend going and researching).

  3. A lot of the regionals are paying 1st year minimum $90/year, almost all are paying a minimum of 75 hours credit month, equates minimum $6,750 pre-tax etc. I can’t speak much on the majors/legacies because I’m only at a regional level, but all pay is available on Airline Pilot Central:

  4. Most airlines have a set minimum day off under their pilot contract, this may vary on the airline. I know at my airline they just adjusted the contract to 12 days off minimum per month, from 11. Seniority will also play a factor in the type of schedule you receive and days off.

  5. Holidays are not a given and seniority is a big player in this.

  6. Your skills will develop and improve as you progress through training. I think the biggest “skill” is really a trait but helps define skill and that is willingness to learn. Every flight is different and there is always something you can take away and learn from.