Corporate pilots fly the planes, jets and helicopters owned by businesses. The main job of these pilots is to transport company executives as they travel on business trips. Since businesses use different types of aircraft, from small to large, the salaries earned by corporate pilots cover a wide range.
Broad Spread of Pilot Salaries
"Pro Pilot" magazine conducts an annual survey to determine what professional pilots earn. The salary range for corporate pilots depends on what type of aircraft a pilot flies and his job title. In the 2013 survey, corporate pilot salaries ranged from a low of $33,000 for a first officer/co-pilot on a Citation I jet up to $259,000 for an aviation department manager -- a pilot-rated position -- for a company flying a Gulfstream G650 aircraft.
Moving Up the Corporate Ladder
Corporate pilots have their own career steps that lead to more responsibility and money. After the entry-level first officer flying position, a pilot becomes a captain, in charge of the aircraft he's flying. Next up above captain will be chief pilot, and the top rung on the corporate pilot ladder is aviation department manager. The bulk of corporate pilot jobs will be at the captain level. In the survey, captains earned from a low of $41,000 in a turboprop Caravan up to $195,000 in a G650. The "Pro Pilot" article noted that the average salary for a Global 5000 company captain was $103,000.
Bigger Means More Money
Corporate pilot salaries are very dependent on the type of aircraft a company flies. Pilots in turboprop aircraft earn about half of what pilots flying business jets make. Salaries of $100,000-plus are prevalent for pilots who fly the larger, super-midsize up through heavy international-sized aircraft. Experienced pilots flying small and midsize corporate jets are more typically in the $80,000 to $100,000 salary range. Co-pilots earn about one-third less than captains.
Commercial Helicopter Pilots Do OK
Helicopters are a different breed of flying, compared to the broader category of fixed-wing business jets. For helicopters, the "Pro Pilot" survey had a range of $53,000 for the lowest-paid captain up to $184,000 for an aviation department manager. Below the department manager level, the majority of corporate helicopter pilot salaries fell into a range of $75,000 to about $125,000.
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