Pilots fly airplanes and helicopters in order to get various jobs done. Most pilots fly people and cargo from place to place. Some pilots test new planes, fight fires, do police work, or rescue people who are hurt or in danger.
Hours: The law says that pilots who work for an airline cannot fly more than 100 hours a month or more than 1,000 hours a year. Most airline pilots fly about 65-75 hours a month, and work another 75 hours a month at other parts of the job.
Opportunities: There were about 107,000 pilots outside of the military in 2006. About 79,000 worked for airlines as pilots, copilots, and flight engineers. The rest were commercial pilots who taught other people to fly or who worked for businesses that fly cargo and workers in their own airplanes or helicopters.
Pay: Median annual earnings of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers were $141,090—this means that half earned more than this amount and half earned less.
Training: All pilots who are paid to fly must have a license from the Federal Government. They must be at least 18 years old. They must have flown at least 250 hours. To get an airline pilot's license, a person must be at least 23 years old. The person must have flown for a total of 1,500 hours, or have gone to a special school for pilots.
Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos107.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).
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