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Salary: what does a pilot earn?


Pilots usually make good money - but the differences in salaries between airlines are huge. Many even have to take out a loan for the expensive training.

Pilots usually make good money - but the differences in salaries between airlines are huge. Many even have to take out a loan for the expensive training.

Pilots have an enormously high responsibility - after all, many human lives depend on their skills. Their salary is usually correspondingly high - but there are big differences.  

Salary: That's how much pilots earn

How much pilots earn as a young professional and in the course of their career depends primarily on which airline they are employed by. The differences in salaries between Lufthansa, Ryanair and Co. are actually enormous, as a study by the Schweizer Handelszeitung from 2014 shows. Accordingly, a captain earns between 53,000 and 134,000 euros annually as a starting salary. Co-pilots get significantly lower salaries, between 25,000 and 63,000 euros per year.

According to an analysis by, the average  starting salary of all pilots is around 62,990 euros (as of: 2016/17 training year). 

Salary pilot by airline:



Starting salary for captain (gross / year)

Final salary of the captain (gross / year) 

Annual co-pilot salary (gross / year)


Air France KLM

134,000 euros

230,000 euros

49,000 euros



106,000 euros

225,000 euros

63,000 euros


Tui Fly

106,000 euros

204,000 euros

63,000 euros


British Airways

77,000 euros

181,000 euros

61,000 euros



124,000 euros

174,000 euros

74,000 euros


Easyjet Switzerland

134,000 euros

52,000 euros


Easyjet Spain

113,000 euros

131,000 euros

49,000 euros



62,000 euros

120,000 euros

38,000 euros



98,000 euros

69,000 euros



84,000 euros

94,000 euros

62,000 euros



53,000 euros

85,000 euros

25,000 euros

Source: (as of 2014)

Pilot training: this is how you become a pilot

The requirements are already high during training. Pilots have to pass an extensive aptitude test, the so-called pilot test, to see whether the student is even suitable for the profession. However, it can only be taken once and is only passed by a small percentage of participants . One of the best known is the pilot test offered by the German Aerospace Center in Hamburg ("DLR test").

The training is possible in two ways, which are in no way inferior in terms of quality:

Training with the airlines

The training to become a commercial pilot , as the profession is officially called, is particularly popular with the various airlines . The advantage: Those who pass the aptitude test here are usually given a permanent position after completing their training. 

Some airlines require the general university entrance qualification, i.e. the Abitur or the subject-specific university entrance qualification , as a prerequisite for training . A class 1 medical certificate is also required. However, normal fitness is sufficient for this. During the examination, visual (including color vision) and hearing tests are carried out and other body functions (heart, lungs, nervous system, etc.) are examined. 

A good knowledge of English (fluent), physics and maths is mandatory for most. The best prerequisites for the job are a high level of stress resistance, good spatial orientation and a high capacity for attention.

Training at private flight schools

As an alternative, prospective pilots can also complete their training at a private flight school. This is possible either in one go , as in the airline training courses -  or part-time , in the evening or on the weekends. In the latter case, pilot training is offered in various modules, and the theoretical part can even be learned via distance learning. Overall, the modular training is much more flexible, some of the training can even be done in the USA, where the costs for training are much lower than in Germany.

Also read: Lufthansa has to cancel the flight and releases 65,000 tons of kerosene over Central Hesse

The downside: After training at a private flight school, it can take a while for pilots to find employment. However, as air traffic continues to increase, the job opportunities for pilots are generally quite good.

Salary and costs for pilot training

Unlike in other training professions, pilot students do not receive a salary during their training - instead, they usually have to pay for the training themselves. 

The costs for pilot training are tough : students should estimate at least 60,000 euros , as the online portal writes. Many therefore first have to take out a loan. Some airlines like Lufthansa advance the amount during the training. Young professionals then gradually pay off the amount from their salary. 

More articles from our salary series

  • Salary: These are the best-paid professions in Germany
  • Salary check: 100 popular professions compared
  • How much do educators in Germany earn?

Do you want to stay up to date with the latest career news? Then follow our industry page on the Xing career portal.

From Andrea Stettner

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Source: merkur

All life articles on 2020-08-23

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