How Much Do Pilots Make in California

The mean annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers in California was $227,000 in 2021

how much do pilots make in California

Are you interested in becoming an expert pilot? Or maybe you are an existing pilot and looking to relocate to California? Are you interested in knowing just how much a pilot makes in California? Whatever the case may be, we have all the information you need!

Salary of a Pilot Working in California

As a California pilot, your average pay is greater than the national average due to the high cost of living in the state. However, a pilot’s actual pay can vary significantly based on their level of experience, the kind of aircraft they fly, and their employer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for California airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $227,000 in 2021. Currently, this is considerably more than the $121,430 national median wage for these occupations. It is crucial to note that the BLS data covers pilots with a range of experience levels and jobs.

The type of aircraft a pilot flies might also affect their pay. For instance, modest single-engine plane pilots may make less money than those pilots of big commercial jets. Additionally, pilots who work for regional or budget airlines can make less money than those who fly for large carriers.

In addition to their base pay as supplemental remuneration, California pilots may also receive bonuses and benefits. For example, some pilots might get a bonus depending on how many hours they fly or how many passengers they carry. Additionally, these pilots could be given other advantages like paid time off, retirement programs, and health insurance.

How Much Do Pilots Make in California

Pilot Work-Life in California

A pilot in California can expect work assignments to fly both during the day and at night. Sometimes, the pilot is also needed to work for several unpredictable hours. It leads to the pilot spending a lot of time away from home.

The pilots operate the assigned aircraft and also go away from home for days. Such a pilot is in charge of the inspections and preflight checks. As the pilot, you are responsible for deciding the safety level of flying in the aircraft. You have to understand flight schedules, and research and analyze weather reports and patterns.

In this way, you can coordinate takeoffs and landings by speaking with the air traffic control and other flight crew members.

The pilot is should monitor the aircraft’s systems while still in flight. Such a pilot manages the plane’s operations, talks to the passengers, and steers the aircraft. In addition, they must also act quickly in the event of an emergency mid-flight.

California pilots routinely participate in training. Through the training, your knowledge of the evolving aviation sector and the most recent changes to aviation legislation and procedures are kept current.

Some training may help you learn how to navigate scenarios you may not have encountered before. Pilots also get mental and physical health evaluations to ensure one is ready to take on the responsibilities.

All said work of a pilot is stressful and demanding. It requires one to have a sober mind so that one can comfortably take care of the crew and passengers. Fortunately, it comes with the ability to travel the world and experience various cultures and places.

Learn much more about the common life of a California pilot here.

How to Become a Successful California Pilot

To become a pilot in California, individuals need to obtain a private pilot’s license. The license requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time and complete a written exam. They must also pass a physical pilot exam and hold a current third-class medical certification.

Individuals can pursue further training and education to qualify for higher-paying pilot job positions after obtaining a private pilot’s license.

You can also choose to go the commercial pilot license way. You put in at least 250 hours of flight time with additional written and flight tests. You can decide to go for instruments rating training which allows you to get a flying in bad weather license.

Get an aviation degree if you want a competitive edge. Having such a degree will help you attract good positions, better pay, and a higher salary. However, a degree is not needed for you to become a licensed pilot.


Pilots in California get paid varying salaries based on their piloting experience, the aircraft type they are flying, and their employer’s ability.

In this state, pilot salaries are some of the highest due to the high cost of living in California. Pilots here also get various extra bonuses and benefits on top of their high salaries.

All California pilots are required to complete rigorous training and meet a strict mental and physical health threshold.