A 747 pilot flies the large passenger and commercial cargo jets known as "jumbo jets." Most work for airlines or overnight delivery companies such as Delta, American Airlines or Federal Express. They conduct pre-flight checks for engines, electrical systems and hydraulics, monitor fuel and weather conditions and navigate their jets using cockpit instruments and instructions from flight controllers on the ground. If you want to be a 747 pilot, you will need to earn a commercial pilot's license. In return, expect to earn salaries that are well above average compared to most occupations.
Salary and Qualifications
Pilots of 747s earn between $25,000 and $200,000, depending on experience and the employers for which they work, according to the AVScholars website, a career website for aviation professionals. They earned average annual salaries of $89,000 as of 2013, according to the job website SimplyHired. To become a licensed 747 pilot -- or any type of commercial pilot -- you will need at least two years of college and 250 hours of flight instruction, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You also need college courses such as English, math, physics and aeronautical engineering. Other key qualifications include physical attributes such as keen depth perception and a quick reaction time, and communication and problem-solving skills.
Salary by City
Average salaries for 747 pilots can vary somewhat by city. They earned the highest annual salaries of $108,000 in Boston, according to SimplyHired. If you worked in New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago, you would also earn a relatively high salary of $105,000, $99,000 or $98,000 per year, respectively. In Dallas, you would make closer to the industry average at $91,000 annually. And, your yearly earnings would be $90,000 and $80,000, respectively, in Columbus, Ohio and Orlando.
You can earn more as a 747 pilot as you gain experience in the industry. Annual increases alone can add thousands of dollars to your salary. You might also use your experience to obtain a higher-paying job. Larger airlines, for example, usually pay more than smaller ones because they generate higher sales volumes to support the higher salaries. Your income would also tend to be higher in Boston and New York -- versus some smaller cities -- because of higher living costs in those big cities.
Jobs for pilots are expect to increase 11 percent in the next decade, according to the BLS. Expect to find more job opportunities as a 747 pilot with smaller airlines or budget carriers, which are growing at a faster clip. Jobs will also become available as 747 pilots retire at the mandatory age of 65.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Airline and Commercial Pilots: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
- AV Scholars: Pilot Careers
- Airline Pilots Association, International: Airline Pilot Positions
- Bloomberg Businessweek: Boeing's 747-400, a Faded Queen of the Skies
- Simply Hired: Average 747 Pilot Salaries
- Simply Hired: Average 747 Pilot Salaries in New York, NY, Boston, MA and Chicago, IL
- Simply Hired: Average Pilot Salaries in Los Angeles, CA, Dallas, TX and Orlando, FL
- Simply Hired: Average Pilot Salaries in Columbus, OH
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images