Posted 4 years 301 days ago ago by jhadmin
This year, we at Rotorcraft Pro decided to take a look at helicopter salaries in the industry. There has not been an industry wide effort in the area of salary surveys for nearly a decade and we felt it would be a point of interest for many in the industry, to include pilots and employers.
How much do helicopter pilots make? How much are you worth?
The first question is fairly easy to answer since all it requires is going through a series of data collection and analysis steps. The second question however is a personal one that requires some introspection and comparative analysis. In other words, everyone wants to know where they stand in relation to their peers in the rest of the industry. Additionally, in order to be competitively attractive, employers want to know whether or not their salary structure is competitive.
Traditional surveys of decades past were sent directly to employers via snail mail in ballot form, then collected an tabulated. This method did provide accurate results, but because employers are tight lipped about their exact salary and benefit structure, the sampling could be rather small and may not be representative of the larger whole.
We decided to take our survey to the streets and ask the pilots themselves what qualifications they have, what they fly, what sector they fly in, what ratings they have, how much they make, and what type benefits they receive as a working helicopter pilot. In all, we had over 800 respondents to the survey, representing all experience levels, and flying in every sector of the industry.
RESPONDENT DEMOGRAPHICS - WHO TOOK THE SURVEY?
Over 800 pilots took the survey. Pilots came from all sectors of the industry to include EMS, offshore oil support, tours, electronic news gathering, utility/lifting, law enforcement, firefighting, SAR, ag/spraying, corporate (business), corporate (private owner), training, and multi-type flying. Here was the breakdown.
Respondents by position:
Line Pilots = 65%
Lead Pilots = 13%
Instructor/Chief Instructor = 8%
Chief Pilot / Director of Ops = 8%
Training Captain/Check Airman = 5%
Owner / Operator = 1%
- 5.4 % of respondents are U.S. pilot working as expats in overseas markets.
This survey was distributed widely through use of email, social media, websites, and our magazine. All pilots were encouraged to participate. An online third-party survey company was used as the medium for survey completion, data collection and analytics. Although personal data was collected from respondents as a qualifier, that information will remain anonymous and only the data will be analyzed.
As in any survey, there will be certain considerations and assumptions that must be made when analyzing and tabulating data. Some of our consideration and assumptions were:
LEGEND - HOW TO READ THE NUMBERS
- This survey is designed to report 2014 data, which is the most recent full tax year.
- We implemented the survey in spring of 2015 during the time when pilots were filing tax returns for the 2014 work year.
- We assume that respondents are aware of their own compensation and benefits in enough detail to answer the questions in the survey.
- With respect to salaries by state, we recognize that due to the nature of several sectors that encourage commuting; where a pilot works, may not be where he/she resides.
- Further, with respect to salaries by state, the number of responses ranged between 0 and 93 per state. We recognize that states with smaller samplings may not be broadly representative of pilot pay in the state. In those cases, we felt the need to report those numbers.
For any category of data, we try and consistently present three pieces of information to include:
L = Low / M = Median / H = High salary ranges
The numerical value range in annual USD$, For example: 50-60 = a range of $50K-$60K per year.
The percent % of respondents in a category that make up the L, M, or H.
EXAMPLE: L 50-60 (15.4%) = Low salary range in category is 50-60K and 15.4% of respondents make up low range in that category.
Salary range by overall industry
Factoid - In 2014, the largest percentage of pilots in the industry grossed between 60-70K per year. The median salary range for all pilots responding to survey is between 70-80K per year.
Salary range by position
Salary range by geographic location
To view comprehensive details by state visit the Rotorcraft Pro May 2015 Issue
Salary range by certificate/ratings
Factoid - Pilots who hold an ATP not only have a 10K per year higher median salary than those who do not, but a larger percentage of them make up the higher income brackets. Three factors may influence the higher earnings for ATP certificate holders: 1) Many employers pay an ATP bonus. 2) Higher paying jobs generally require an ATP as a pre-requisite to being hired. 3) Pilots may have more tenure as a working pilot prior to obtaining the ATP.
- Pilots who hold an ATP not only have a 10K per year higher median salary than those who do not, but a larger percentage of them make up the higher income brackets. Three factors may influence the higher earnings for ATP certificate holders: 1) Many employers pay ATP bonus pay. 2) Higher paying jobs generally require an ATP as a pre-requisite to being hired. 3) Pilots may have more tenure as a working pilot prior to obtaining the ATP.
The illustration below shows a majority concentration of ATP holders (approx 60%) reside in the upper income brackets when compared to a similar concentration of CPL-Instrument certificate holders who reside in the middle income brackets.
Salary range by sector - Median salary range per sector
- It is clear by the numbers that if you want the best chance of reaching a six-figure income as a helicopter pilot, your best opportunities are in the sectors of offshore oil support, utility/lifting, law enforcement, SAR, and corporate.
To read the remainder of this survey, visit the Rotorcraft Pro 2015 May Issue