Overall, employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Employment of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024. It is likely that scheduled airlines will attempt to increase profitability over the next decade by increasing the average number of passengers in all of their aircraft. This goal will probably be achieved by eliminating routes with low demand and reducing the number of flights per day along more heavily used routes. These practices will ultimately lower the overall number of flights and lower the total number of pilot jobs.
Employment of commercial pilots is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Commercial pilots are projected to add jobs in various industries, including ambulance services and support activities for air transportation.
Most job opportunities will arise from the need to replace pilots who leave the workforce. From 2014 to 2024, many pilots are expected to retire as they reach the required retirement age of 65.
Job prospects may be best with regional airlines, low-cost carriers, and nonscheduled aviation services because entry-level requirements are lower for regional and commercial jobs. There is typically less competition among applicants in these sectors than there is for major airlines.
Pilots seeking jobs at the major airlines will face strong competition because those firms tend to attract many more applicants than the number of job openings. Applicants also will have to compete with furloughed pilots for available jobs.
Pilots with the greatest number of flight hours usually have some advantage, but the type of time also matters a great deal. For example, pilots who have greater amounts of time in turbine engine-powered aircraft often have an advantage over those who do not. For this reason, military and experienced pilots will have an advantage over applicants whose flight time consists only of small piston-driven aircraft.
Airline and Commercial Pilots
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Total, all occupations
Airline and commercial pilots
Air transportation workers
Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program