Pilot Salary UK: Everything You Need To Know [2023]

SOUTHAFRICAPPL - Pilot Salary UK Everything You Need To Know

Become a pilot in the UK can be exciting, but it can also be expensive to train for this career. It’s important to make sure that the money spent on training will be worth it in the long run.

When you work as a first officer or captain, it can be a rewarding job, but you need to know if the salary will cover your expenses. In the UK, pilots earn a good salary, putting them in the top 1% of earners, especially as they advance in their careers.

Even though living costs are high in London, pilot salaries UK are competitive. But it’s important to know that, on average, British pilots earn less than pilots in the United States.

For example, highly experienced senior long-haul captains in the US can make over $500,000 per year. In the UK, these captains might earn around £200,000 at most, and some could make a bit more with overtime.

When starting out, the salary for airline pilots in the UK is usually between £45,000 and £55,000. While this might seem lower than in other countries, it’s crucial to think about the overall career path and job satisfaction.

Have you ever wondered how much pilots earn in the UK?

Let’s look at the details of a pilot’s salary in the UK. On average, pilots in the UK earn about £85,000 a year. But this amount can change based on a pilot’s experience and the type of aircraft they fly.

This salary range includes different kinds of pilots, starting from those who are just beginning as first and second officers, sometimes called co-pilots. It also includes senior first officers (SFO) and experienced captains.

When you’re starting as a pilot, you can expect to earn around £50,000 per year. However, if you’re flying larger planes on long-distance routes, you might make up to £200,000 a year, as these flights usually come with higher pay.

Even at budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair, experienced captains can make at least £150,000 per year after about ten years of service.

It’s essential to know that major airlines, like the ones mentioned, typically offer higher salaries compared to smaller operators like Flybe or Logan Air, which have more limited operations. As a result, the bigger airlines often attract more pilots because they pay more.

Cost For A Pilot Training Programme UK?

Okay, so becoming a pilot in the UK can be a bit pricey. To attend flight school and get all the training you need, it might cost you around £70,000 to £100,000. And, if you have to get additional training for a specific type of aircraft, it could go up to a whopping £130,000. That’s a lot of money!

If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation, you can visit our blog post titled “What’s the Price Tag for Becoming a Pilot?” It delves into all the specific costs and details. Additionally, we have another blog post that discusses different ways to finance your pilot training if you’re concerned about covering the expenses.

SOUTHAFRICA PPL - Pilot Salary UK Everything You Need To Know about the salary of pilot

First Officer Starting Salary In The UK – After Your ATPL Licence Qualification

Now, let’s talk about the money you can make once you’re a qualified pilot. The starting salaries can vary, depending on the airline and the type of plane you’re flying.

For new pilots, especially those who just finished their training, there’s something called a “bond.” It means you might get a salary that’s £12,000 less each year, but in return, you’ll get a monthly payment of £1,000 that you don’t have to pay taxes on. It sounds a bit complicated because of how airlines and flight schools work it out, but the main thing is to understand everything before you sign any contracts.

As a rough idea, in your first year as a pilot in the UK, you could be earning between £40,000 and £60,000. For example, if you start as a “second officer” at EasyJet, you might get around £47,000 each year (excluding extra pay for actual flying). On average, you might fly about 700 to 900 hours per year, and you get an extra £25 for each hour you spend flying. So, new pilots straight out of training could potentially make over £60,000 a year. Not bad for a beginner’s salary, right?

Captain Pilot Salary In The UK – Letter Career Progression

Pilots who become captains in the UK earn good salaries. The pay depends on the type of flights they do and how much experience they have.

For short flights, a captain can make around £150,000 each year. If they have more experience, they might earn even more. Long-haul captains, especially at airlines like Virgin Atlantic, can make over £200,000 a year. When they start, pilots usually make around £100,000, but this can go up.

Let’s look at the pay for pilots at some well-known airlines like easyJet, Ryanair, and Virgin.

EasyJet, Ryanair, and Virgin: Pilot Salaries in the UK

Pilot Career Progression – Aviation In England

Now, let’s talk about how pilots move up in their careers in the aviation sector in England.

Second Officer (SO): This is where new pilots usually start, especially if they don’t have much experience. Some airlines use this rank, and pilots can move up if they get enough flight hours.

First Officer (FO): Most flight crew who aren’t captains are first officers. They sit in the right-hand seat and can be new or very experienced.

Senior First Officer (SFO): After being a first officer for a while, pilots can become senior first officers. This comes with a big pay increase.

Captain: The captain is in charge and sits in the left-hand seat. Captains have a lot of responsibility and get a good salary.

Training Captain: These captains get special training to teach others. They might train new pilots or help a first officer become a captain.

easyJet Pilot Salary UK

EasyJet pays its pilots in the UK pretty well. If you’re a Captain (the head pilot), you can expect a starting salary of about £115,000 per year. On top of that, as you work longer with the airline:

  • After 2-4 years, you get a 5% pay raise.
  • After 5-9 years, it goes up by 10%.
  • After 10 years, you get a 15% increase.

So, after a decade, a Captain can make over £130,000 each year. They also get around £35 for every hour they spend flying (700-900 hours a year), which adds up nicely. And there are other benefits like pensions and profit sharing.

For First Officers (pilots who aren’t Captains yet), their pay ranges from £40,000 to £75,000, depending on experience. They also get about £25 for each flight hour. This means they can make nearly £100,000 in a year.

Remember, these numbers are approximate and might change.

Ryanair Pilot Salary UK

Ryanair, another airline, also pays its pilots well. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Trainees start at £16,800, plus £12 for every hour they fly, making it around £25,800.
  • After 500 hours, a Second Officer makes about £44,500.
  • From 500 to 1500 hours, a Junior First Officer gets around £59,500.
  • With more than 1500 hours, a First Officer earns about £63,000.
  • Captains, the top pilots, can make £123,000, including an extra £17 for every hour flown.
  • They also get extra money for leave, working on days off, and night stops.

So, being a pilot at Ryanair in the UK pays well, and you can become a Captain and make a good income in about five years.

Just like with EasyJet, remember that these numbers are estimates and might change.

Virgin Atlantic Pilot Salary UK

When it comes to how much Virgin Atlantic pilots earn in the United Kingdom, a few important things come into play. Let’s break it down in simpler terms:

Experienced Captain: A pilot who’s been a captain for a while can earn about £170,000 per year.

  • Captain (Base Salary): A captain’s basic pay is around £130,000.
  • First Officer (Top Salary): The highest-paid first officers can make roughly £110,000.
  • First Officer (Base Salary): For first officers, the starting salary is around £65,000.
  • Second Officer (Top Salary): The best-paid second officers can expect to earn about £64,000.
  • Second Officer (Base Salary): Second officers at the beginning of their careers earn around £62,000.

It’s important to understand that at airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, it might take many years before a pilot becomes a captain.

Factors Impacting A Pilot Salary UK

Experience and Seniority: How long a pilot has been flying and their level of experience plays a big role in how much they earn.

Type of Aircraft: The kind of plane a pilot flies can also impact their earnings.

Location: Where a pilot is based or frequently flies to can influence their salary.
White License Do You Need To Become An Airline Pilot UK?
To become a pilot in the UK and earn a pilot’s salary, you need specific qualifications:

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Class 1 Medical Certificate: This is required for all aspiring pilots.

Frozen Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL): Your ATPL is “frozen” until you’ve completed 1,500 hours of flight time and a special flight test, which grants you a full ATPL.

White License Do You Need To Become An Airline Pilot UK?

When starting their careers, pilots can expect to earn about £45,000 per year, but this amount increases significantly as they gain experience and progress in their careers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Being a pilot means your work is always changing. No two days are the same, so the job stays interesting and never gets boring. Depending on where you work, you might get a good salary and get to explore different parts of the world

Pilots usually start with a salary around £45,000. But, this can go up quickly. In some airlines, you could become a captain in just five years and make over £100,000 a year. Senior captains on long flights, with extra pay, might even earn up to £200,000 a year.

It depends on what you like. If you want to travel a lot, you might like airlines like British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. But if staying close to home is more important, you could consider airlines like Ryanair or easyJet.

Training usually takes between 18 to 24 months. If you choose the Integrated scheme, you can finish your training in a quick 18 months. Some people have gone from having no flying experience to flying passengers for an airline in less than two years.

To become a pilot in the UK, you need to find a good flight school. Look for one that has a strong connection with airlines and a history of placing students with them. This not only helps you become a qualified pilot but also increases your chances of getting a job in the industry.

A pilot’s salary is usually made up of a basic pay, which depends on how long they’ve been working for the airline and the type of plane they fly. Pilots also get extra pay for each hour they spend flying.

Yes, some pilots get paid for each flight, but it’s more common to get paid based on the number of hours they spend flying. Flight pay can range from £10 to £100 per hour, giving pilots an incentive as they gain more flight experience.


Being a pilot can be very rewarding. The way to become a pilot is different from many other jobs, and there are special chances to move forward in your career. But, the most important thing for success in this job is picking the right school for learning to fly that fits with what you want to achieve. If you want to have a satisfying career as a pilot, it starts with choosing the best place to learn how to fly that suits your needs.

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