Airline Pilots, Co-Pilots, and Flight Engineers form a job family that has a strong affiliation with the Strong Interest Inventory® Realistic Theme. Individuals who chose these career fields tend to be practical doers and enjoy technology. This job family has a secondary association with the Conventional theme, aligning with these individual’s preference for following set procedures and routines as well as the Investigative theme which aligns with their analytical nature. They prefer a work style focused around self control and leadership. The Strong Interest Inventory® analyzes individuals’ interest patterns in a wide variety of personal and professional areas, helping them find a well-fit occupation. Refined since its release in 1927, this is considered an excellent assessment resource. Individuals whose careers fall under The Realistic Theme Code usually enjoy working with their hands and in understanding how and why things work. They thrive in clearly defined environments.
Airline Pilots and those in similar careers are responsible for piloting and navigating multi-engine, fixed-wing aircrafts. Most often, they fly on regularly scheduled routes, and transport passengers and cargo around the world. They inspect their plane before takeoff, and ensure that weight distribution and passenger balance are within acceptable ranges for safe flying. During takeoff and landing, they coordinate with other members of the flight team, but during most of the flight their focus is primarily on the instrumentation, controls, and mechanics of flying. They communicate with control towers to clear their takeoff and landing, and to ensure that they maintain a safe distance from other aircraft. They confer with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters to keep current on flight conditions and weather, and may need to communicate relevant information to their passengers. Finally, current Pilots may be responsible for instructing student pilots on the principles of flight or for evaluating applications for jobs or Pilot’s licenses.
Because flying a plane is so highly technical, Pilots rely on a large number of technical tools, gauges, and devices. These include cockpit display panels and guidance systems, anti-skid controls and breaking systems, communications systems, environment controllers, ejection systems, and hydraulic systems (e.g., for brakes). They operate landing gear assemblies, steering controls and aircraft warning systems, as well as oxygen monitors and defrosting systems. In addition, they should be comfortable using computers of the laptop, desktop, and handheld varieties, and a range of accompanying software, including Pilot Navigator Software Load Balance, SBS International Maestro Suite, flight-specific database and query software (e.g., Airline Pilots Daily Aviation Log PPC), and information retrieval and search software (e.g., AeroPlanner; Notam Development Group Airport Insight). Together the computer programs help Pilots analyze flight paths, maintain timely flight logs, navigate routes, and document issues.
Successful Pilots have a foundation in the principles of geography and transportation, as well as mathematics, physics, and computer science. In addition to these more technical skills, they should have strong communication skills and be fluent in English, and a sense of personal and customer service. They work closely with other flight crew members, as well as with passengers. They need to be comfortable controlling and operating equipment. Attention to detail is necessary to monitor the plane’s operation. Pilots evaluate situations and solve complex problems quickly, since their decisions often affect not only themselves but also many other people when flying passenger planes. Having precise physical control and manual dexterity is important, since many controls are highly sensitive. Acute vision and depth perception are required. Most Airline Pilots hold at least a Bachelor’s degree, though many hold a Master’s or a post-baccalaureate as well.
An Airline Pilot’s salary tends to be fairly high. In most states, salaries start around $60,000, with the best paid Pilots earning over $180,000 in Florida, Texas, California, and New York. In Texas, even the lowest paid pilots salaries are still nearly $80,000. Luckily, the rates of employment for this career are projected to increase before 2024, with Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Washington all above 20%. These jobs are largely moving from other states, however, employment is projected to fall over 40% in Indiana, and also significantly in Tennessee, Wyoming, and Wisconsin. Below are some employment trends for Airline Pilots, Co-Pilots and Flight Engineers:
- Median Airline Pilot’s Salary : $118,140 annually
- Employment: 76,000 employees
- Projected growth (2012-2022): little or no change (-1% to 1%)
- Projected job openings (2012-2022): 19,300
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org