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How much do pilots earn in the UK?

  • Article by L3Harris Airline Academy
  • Published
  • Duration 5 minute read

Have you ever wondered how much pilots earn in the UK?

A pilot career is attractive for many reasons from having an office above the clouds, to making life-long friends, to earning an attractive salary as a commercial pilot.

As you embark on a truly rewarding career as a pilot, you likely have many questions, such as: 

  • What is the starting salary for a pilot in the UK? 
  • How much do pilots for major airlines earn? Do they earn more than other airlines? 
  • What is the salary of a cargo pilot?
  • What is the average airline Captain salary?

How much a pilot earns is dependent on a number of factors, including:

  • The airline (e.g. a major airline First Officer salary will differ from the First Officer wage on a smaller airline)
  • Level of experience (e.g. the salary for a Captain pilot will be significantly more than your starting wage)
  • Type of aircraft (e.g. the salary of a cargo pilot will be different to the wage of an airline pilot)

According to Indeed, a senior or experienced pilot’s salary is 31% higher than the UK’s national average salary based on pilots in London earning approximately £48,121 per year.

Read on to discover how much a pilot could earn at different stages of their career, from the average starting wage all the way up to the salary for a Captain pilot. The income figures of a commercial airline pilot below are intended to be a guide only.

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Your career as a pilot

Once you have met all the requirements to become a pilot and completed an pilot course or programme, you’ll be starting to think about finding a job as a pilot.

There are many career opportunities as a pilot, each requiring varying levels of experience:

  • Junior First Officer
  • First Officer
  • Captain

As you can imagine, the salary for a Captain pilot varies significantly from that of a Junior First Officer. You can also work as a cargo pilot, or for a commercial airline.

Let’s delve deeper into how much commercial airline pilots earn in the UK.

Commercial airline pilot starting salary

You’ll begin your flying career as a Junior First Officer.

A Junior First Officer who is either still in training or has not completed their full flying hours will have two stripes on their pilot uniform. So, what is the salary of a pilot in the first phase of their career?

According to Prospects, a pilot’s starting salary will range between £24,000 (for a small operation) and £28,000 (for larger airlines). Although becoming a pilot is a considerable investment, you can expect to enjoy an attractive salary, one that is typically higher than the average university graduate salary - currently around £24,000.

First Officer pilot salary in the UK

With more flying hours under your belt, you’ll progress onto the role of Senior First Officer. A Senior First Officer is second in command to the Captain. A pilot’s uniform is a good indicator of their rank, for example, a Senior First Officer may have three stripes. You might be thinking, what is the average Senior First Officer pilot salary and how does it differ from the wage of a Junior First Officer?

According to PayScale, on average, the salary for an experienced First Officer in the UK is £48,605.

If you’re planning on working for a large airline you may be wondering about salaries at companies such as British Airways. So, how much does a BA pilot earn? For Senior First Officers at British Airways, the average salary in the United Kingdom is £58,204.

Captain pilot salary in the UK

After securing more experience as a Senior First Officer you can begin applying for the role of Captain. Captains will have four stripes on their uniform and are responsible for the flight and are first in command.

As expected, the salary for a Captain pilot is significantly higher than the salary of a cargo pilot or First Officer. According to PayScale, on average, an airline Captain salary in the United Kingdom is £103,525.

For larger airlines, a Captain salary in the United Kingdom can be even higher, for example the average BA Captain salary currently sits at around £150,000.

Why you should become a pilot

Becoming a pilot enables you to escape the mundane and enjoy a highly rewarding and exciting career above the clouds. As well as an impressive pilot salary in the UK, there are many other reasons to train as a pilot. So, why should you start a training programme to become a pilot?

1. Every day is different

You’ll be flying to different countries around the globe from day-to-day and week-to-week. You’ll also be working with different flight crews, meeting passengers and city residents meaning you can build connections with people from different cultures around the world.

2. Career progression

As a pilot there’s much room for progression and you’ll constantly be learning on the go. As we’ve already highlighted in the article, you’ll begin your career as a Junior First Officer, progressing on to Senior First Captain and then to Captain.

3. Perks & bonuses

As well as an attractive pilot salary in the UK, you can enjoy an abundance of perks such as travel discounts for family & friends, health benefits, retirement plans and much more.

4. Work life balance

Typically, pilots work an average of 2-3 weeks a month meaning you can enjoy the rest of your time doing what you love the most, whether this be connecting with family & friends, relaxing or enjoying a hobby.

5. Office with a view

Not many people in the world can say they have an office above the clouds with unparalleled views with every working day. It’s easy to see why pilots want to escape the monotonous routine of a 9-5 office job.

Find out more about the 10 best things about becoming a pilot.

Train to be a pilot with L3Harris Airline Academy

Becoming a pilot offers the chance to have a lucrative career, with the average BA First Officer salary being £58,204 and BA Captain salary being £150,000.

So, what are you waiting for? Moving one step closer to earning an impressive airline Captain salary by applying to one of our world-class courses or programmes

With UK locations in Cranfield and Crawley, as well as our US base in Orlando, the L3Harris Airline Academy can help you kickstart your career. We are also proud to have strong relationships with airlines, providing brilliant career opportunities for graduates.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to read our FAQs or submit an enquiry.

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What's next?

If you are feeling inspired by this article then we have several others that could be of interest to you. Excited for the next step? Feel free to look at our guides on ‘How to become a pilot’ as well as our FAQs.

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