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Airline Pilot

Airline pilots fly aircraft transporting passengers, cargo and mail. With the exception of some small aircraft, a captain and first officer work together on commercial flights.

  • Avg. Salary $75,710.00
  • Avg. Wage $36.35
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 2,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Airplane Pilot, Pilot

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Airline Pilot is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
NOC code: 2271.1

Interest in driving - operating fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to provide services such as search-and-rescue operations, aerial surveying and spraying and crop dusting


Interest in analyzing information to test new aircraft to evaluate performance


Interest in speaking with crews to direct their activities during flights as captain or co-pilot and in performing captain's duties as first officer, if required; in training other pilots on new equipment, and in preparing them for examinations to validate and upgrade existing licences

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 19, 2016

The captain and first officer usually arrive at the air terminal about one hour before flight time to check enroute weather, prepare the flight plan and brief the crew. Once in the cockpit, they check emergency equipment, flight instruments, radios, electronic equipment and fuel load. After passengers board the plane and cargo is loaded, pilots conduct final instrument checks.

Takeoff, climb-out, descent and landing require concentration on complex procedures and the ability to make logical decisions quickly. In the air, pilots:

  • manipulate aircraft controls to steer the aircraft and reach the desired altitude
  • make periodic position reports
  • calculate and revise flight plans as necessary
  • enter data in the aircraft log book
  • monitor aircraft systems
  • monitor air traffic control for traffic information, clearances and weather information
  • make announcements regarding the flight on the public address system.

Pilots' specific duties vary according to the type of aircraft and the length and nature of the flight.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

All airline pilots must work on weekends and holidays. In most airlines, pilots spend approximately 75 hours a month in the air plus preparation time on the ground. They may be assigned blocks of flight times according to seniority (one to three month schedules) and are required to work reserve duty with rotating days on call and days off.

Smaller charter airlines fly on an unscheduled demand basis so working hours can be very irregular. Charter and corporate flying may involve long periods of waiting and require extended periods away from home.

Pilots spend much of their time in cramped aircraft cockpits and are sometimes exposed to dangerous situations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Pilots need the following characteristics:

  • good spatial perception
  • good motor co-ordination
  • good judgment and the ability to make decisions and act quickly 
  • leadership qualities
  • the ability to work well with others in a team in a fast paced, dynamic environment.

They should enjoy operating aircraft and related equipment, evaluating aircraft performance and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Pilots should have at least a high school diploma with good standing in mathematics and physics, and must be fluent in spoken and written English. A university degree, or a college or technical diploma, and fluency in French are definite assets.

Pilots must pass a criminal record check, hold a current, valid Canadian passport and Transport Canada Restricted Area (security) pass.

Airline pilots usually are between 20 and 35 years of age when they start employment with an airline. Major airline companies require vision corrected to 20/20. Family and personal medical history should be good with no mental or physical problems which would interfere with the safe handling of an aircraft. Airline pilots must be in top physical condition to pass the annual Transport Canada physical examination.

The minimum licensing requirement for airline pilots is a Canadian Commercial Pilot's Licence with night endorsement, instrument flight rating and a Canadian Radio Telephone (Restricted) Licence. Some airlines require, and others prefer to hire, pilots who have:

  • an Airline Transport Pilot's Licence with multi-engine endorsement and Class I Instrument Rating
  • several thousand hours of flying experience
  • an advanced training ground school course on aviation subjects or related post-secondary education
  • previous commercial flying experience.

Training programs are offered by private flying clubs and post-secondary schools throughout the province. The cost for a qualified instructor and plane rental varies.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Absolute Aviation

Adventure Aviation Inc.

Battle River Aviation Ltd.

Border City Aviation Ltd.

Freedom Air Services & Training Ltd.

Lakeland Flight Services

McMurray Aviation - Fort McMurray

Mount Royal University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Flying clubs and schools generally require applicants for commercial pilot training to have a private pilot's licence, meet all Transport Canada requirements including a Category 1 Aviation medical and be at least 18 years of age prior to taking the test.

After they are employed, airline pilots must continue to study operating manuals to keep up to date with improvements to facilities, equipment and procedures. They also are required to complete practice and check flights, in flight simulators and aircraft, at regular intervals to requalify for their licences. Depending on their employer, pilots may also be required to complete various annual exams and attend crew resource management courses.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Pilots must acquire the required flying experience before they are eligible for airline pilot positions. Competition for airline positions is keen. Prospective pilots should be willing to relocate to find employment. Entry level employment for pilots may include non-flying positions within charter companies helping prepare aircraft for flights before becoming a first officer on charter airplanes such as a Piper Navajo or Beechcraft King Air. Pilots also may find employment as flight instructors after completing the required training.

In major airlines, starting pilots must complete a three or four month course before they are assigned to a pilot base. They generally start as first officers on medium or short range aircraft such as a Dash-8, Canadair Regional Jet, B-737 or A-320. Promotions depend upon ability and seniority. Opportunities for advancement to executive positions are limited and require business education.

Airline pilots are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2271: Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the Transportation and Warehousing (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Transportation and Warehousing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,000 Albertans are employed in the Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.9% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 57 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As airline pilots form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for airline pilots.  

Employment turnover is generally low in this occupation but is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

As pilots gain experience, their salaries increase according to years of experience and factors such as aircraft gross weight and overseas flight pay. Other employee benefits vary depending on the company.

Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors
NOC code: 2271

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $14.42 $57.69 $22.68 $19.23
Overall $17.31 $68.75 $36.35 $29.00
Top $23.08 $85.38 $50.97 $48.08

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Transportation and Warehousing
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Physics
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Electro-Technologies
    • Logistics
    • Mechanics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Aviation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Air Transport Association of Canada website:

Transport Canada website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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