Airline Academy

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 and earning an attractive commercial airline pilot salary.

Once you have met all the requirements to become a pilot and completed a 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 embark on a truly rewarding career as a pilot, you will 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?

So, what is the average pilot salary in the UK? 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.

However, how much a pilot earns is generally 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)

Read on to discover how much a commercial airline 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 commercial airline pilot income figures below are intended to be a guide only.

Ask us a question

How Your Salary Is Likely to Grow as a Pilot

Whilst the cost of becoming a pilot can be a big commitment, once qualified, the career progression and potential salary can be very beneficial.

Senior First Officer

£48,605 - £86,699 per annum*

On average, depending on airline.


£103,525 - £173,000 per annum*

On average, depending on airline.

*Glassdoor, August 2023

Starting salary for a Junior First Officer

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. Despite being in the first phase of your career, the starting salary of a pilot is still very healthy.

What is the starting salary of a Junior First Officer pilot at a major airline?

According to Prospects, a pilot’s starting salary as a Junior First Officer at a major airline will be around £28,000. 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.

What is the starting salary of a Junior First Officer pilot at a small airline?

Even if you begin your airline pilot career at a smaller airline, you will likely still match the average graduate salary in the UK. As you may still be completing your flying hours, an average Junior First Officer salary of £24,000 is very respectable.

Ask us a question

Senior 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?

How much does a Senior First Officer earn?

According to PayScale, on average, the salary for an experienced First Officer in the UK is £48,605. This is almost double what you will be earning as a Junior First Officer because, as second to the Captain, you will take on a much higher level of responsibility and significantly more duties when you become a Senior First Officer.

What is the average Senior First Officer pilot salary at a major airline?

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.

At nearly £10,000 higher than the average salary of a First Officer pilot, roles at major airlines such as British Airways are very in-demand.

We are proud to have strong relationships with airlines so that we can support you with finding incredible career opportunities.

Ask us a question

Captain pilot salary in the UK

After a lot of hard work and time spent 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.

Holding the position of Captain is a prestigious role so, as expected, the salary for a Captain pilot is significantly higher than the salary of a cargo pilot or First Officer.

How much do airline Captains earn in the UK?

According to PayScale, on average, an airline Captain salary in the United Kingdom is £103,525.

To put the average Captain pilot salary into perspective, it works out as almost 2.5 times the amount of the average Senior First Officer salary, and over 4 times higher than a Junior First Officer salary.

What do airline Captains earn at major UK airlines?

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.

This is an impressive salary, as the average UK salary comes in at around £38,600, according to Indeed. Your hard work and determination to be a commercial airline Captain will be reflected in the £111,400 higher salary.

Ask us a question

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, earning an average pilot salary of £24,000-£28,000, before progressing on to Senior First Captain and then to Captain where you can expect to receive a pilot salary of over £100,000.

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. With so many perks and bonuses available to you as a reward for hard work and dedication, your pilot salary will go even further.

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. This also makes an airline pilot salary even more appealing as you will enjoy a significant payday while working less hours.

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.

Ask us a question

Prepare for your first pilot salary 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 about our Airline Academy or pilot salaries in the UK, please do not hesitate to read our FAQs or submit an enquiry.

Contact us

What's Next?

If you are feeling inspired by this article then why not take a look at all the pilot training programmes we have to offer? Or reach out to our team to discuss in more detail.

Previous post
  • Published
  • Duration 5 minute read
  • Published
  • Duration 5 minute read
Next post