Interested in becoming a pilot in Canada and wondering how much you can earn?
Being a pilot can be a rewarding career that provides good job security, the opportunity to travel to new places, and daily challenges that will always keep you sharp.
Although the number of licensed airline pilots in Canada has decreased significantly since 2017, it’s still a viable career field for dedicated aviation enthusiasts.
Below, I’ll break down the average salary of a pilot in Canada, explain what you need to become a pilot, and outline some of the key benefits of being a pilot in Canada.
The median pilot in Canada earns around $78,099 per year, which breaks down to just over $40 per hour. That being said, if you can make it to the upper ranks, you could earn upwards of $100,000 or more, which could bring you upwards of $75 per hour or more.
How much you’ll earn as a pilot in Canada depends on several different factors, including:
- Whether or not you have a university degree
- Which airline you’re flying for
- Whether you’re a private airline pilot or a commercial pilot
- How many years of experience you have
- Which types of aircraft you’re certified to fly
- Whether you’re a first officer or a captain
- How many years you’ve remained with the same airline
Like many other positions, pilots tend to be paid based on their experience level. The more years of flying you have under your belt, the more you can expect to get paid.
Most larger commercial flights are required to have two pilots in the cockpit. This redundancy ensures that there’s always a backup plan if things go wrong or one pilot becomes incapacitated for one reason or another.
The two types of pilots are captains and first officers.
Of the two positions, captains have the most experience, the higher rank, and are paid the highest. While first officers are still qualified and licensed pilots, they typically have less experience and are paid a lower salary.
For example, the average first officer flying for Air Canada earns a salary of $64,307, while the average Air Canada captain earns an average of $226,192 annually. That’s a pretty big pay gap, and it just goes to show how important experience is in this industry.
The top-paying positions are highly coveted and are one of the reasons why many pilots remain in this career field for most of their working life.
- Related Reading: How The Air Canada “Buddy Pass” Works
Air Canada is, by far, the largest commercial airline in Canada. However, there are several other major airlines that you could end up flying for. Here’s a quick table outlining the average pilot salaries for captains and first officers in Canada, based on the airline they’re flying for.
The data was obtained from the latest salary reports available on Glassdoor.ca.
|Airline||Captain’s Salary||First Officer’s Salary|
Keep in mind that the numbers mentioned above are simply averages that are based on the small number of pilots who take the time to report their salaries publicly. Based on my research, the salary trajectory of a Canadian pilot looks something like this:
- Entry-level: $65,000 to $80,000
- Mid-level: $90,000 to $120,000
- High-level: $200,000+
These numbers also assume that pilots are working standard shifts and a standard work week. Often, pilots are given the opportunity to accept long flights and will be able to earn overtime pay, which can dramatically increase their annual salary.
Flying a private jet typically comes with a certain level of prestige. However, private jet pilots typically earn a similar salary to commercial jet pilots. The main difference is that private jets may not require two pilots due to the plane’s lower weight and fewer passengers.
With this in mind, private jets aren’t flown by entry-level pilots. Instead, they’re typically piloted by captains who have at least a few years of experience under their belt. According to Glassdoor.ca, the average salary for a private jet pilot in Canada is $110,382.
Being a pilot isn’t your typical nine-to-five job. It’s a position that offers a fair amount of flexibility, offers the opportunity to travel and comes with some great job perks. Here are some of the top benefits of a career in aviation.
As a pilot, you’ll be able to fly cheaply. For example, you could fly a plane from Toronto to Vancouver, stay in Van City for a few days and then accept a flight back to Toronto.
When you’re not working, most pilots can also fly for free domestically. Pilots may be required to pay taxes and base fees for international flights, but these are typically quite low.
In addition to themselves, pilots may also be allowed to bring their immediate family members on a flight with them for free. Close friends and extended family members may be able to receive lower-cost tickets as well.
As a pilot, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new co-workers and passengers on a regular basis. Whenever you land, you’ll also be able to socialize with other captains in the airport lounges.
While some flights are smooth and routine, the life of a pilot is rarely ever stagnant. Every day comes with new challenges, as flight conditions vary significantly depending on the weather and air traffic patterns.
To become a pilot in Canada, you’ll need to attend flight school. Here, you’ll be required to undergo hours of training with a skilled flight instructor. At first, you’ll just be a passenger, watching your instructor’s movements and reading your study materials.
As you gain more experience, you’ll have the opportunity to co-pilot a plane with your instructor and eventually pilot aircraft on your own.
After this, you’ll need to obtain your commercial pilot’s license by taking the skills test administered by Transport Canada.
Technically, you don’t need a university degree to be a pilot in Canada. However, your chances of landing a higher-paying entry position as a first officer greatly increase if you have a college degree.
If you’re comfortable in high-risk situations, don’t fear heights, and are willing to put in the study and practice needed to become a pilot, aviation can be an extremely rewarding career. Interested in seeing more job salaries?
Keep on reading to see the average salaries in some of Canada’s most prevalent industries!