Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers


Salary Median (2020)


Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)

+2.8% (slower than the average)

Most Common Level of Education

Bachelor's degree


What Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers Do

Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, national, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.

Other Job Titles Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers May Have

Airbus Captain, Airline Captain, Airline Pilot, Captain, Check Airman, Co-Pilot, Commercial Airline Pilot, First Officer, Line Pilot, Pilot

How Leaders Describe a Typical Day at Work

C-130J Pilot ,

United States Air Force

My squadron currently gets deployed on missions all over the world, so I don't really have a typical day. We could do air drops, air medical evacuations, hurricane relief, human remains missions for fallen soldiers, cargo transport, humanitarian relief, and much more. Each mission comes with its own requirements and challenges.

Pilot ,

AmeriFlight Cargo Airline

At 5:20 a.m., I check in with dispatch. I fill in paperwork, verify aircraft, check weather, and flight safety, I fly the plane to test it. I check the flight inside and out. Wait for cargo when done. Monitor cargo, making sure everything entering the plane is allowed. Using a specific balancing system to balance materials on board to then safely take them to their destination. If done, I go to the hotel at 5 p.m. If not, I restart process. Process can repeat up until 7 p.m. Mon-Fri or Mon-Sat.

Tasks & Responsibilities May Include

  • Use instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
  • Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
  • Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
  • Respond to and report in-flight emergencies and malfunctions.
  • Inspect aircraft for defects and malfunctions, according to pre-flight checklists.

This page includes information from theO*NET 26.1 Databaseby the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under theCC BY 4.0license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.