Expand mobile version menu
  Skip to main content

Airline Pilot/Flight Engineer

salary graphic



education graphic


Bachelor's degree or higher +

job outlook graphic



What They Do

Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers Career Video

About This Career

Pilots and navigates the flight of fixed-wing aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, national, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution and Logistics cluster Transportation Operations pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Uses instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
  • Starts engines, operates controls, and pilots airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
  • Works as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
  • Responds to and reports in-flight emergencies and malfunctions.
  • Inspects aircraft for defects and malfunctions, according to pre-flight checklists.
  • Contacts control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
  • Monitors engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
  • Monitors gauges, warning devices, and control panels to verify aircraft performance and to regulate engine speed.
  • Steers aircraft along planned routes, using autopilot and flight management computers.
  • Checks passenger and cargo distributions and fuel amounts to ensure that weight and balance specifications are met.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing objects clearly in glaring conditions or bright lighting
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Seeing clearly in low light conditions
  • Seeing objects or movement to one's side when looking forward
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overnight travel
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Airline Captain
  • Airbus Captain
  • Line Pilot
  • Captain
  • Check Airman
  • Co-Pilot
  • Commercial Airline Pilot
  • First Officer
  • Pilot — Commands ships to steer them into and out of harbors, estuaries, straits, and sounds, and on rivers, lakes, and bays.


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


Powered by XAP

OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.