9:12 PM

Pay for Aviation
Industry Jobs Are
All Over the Map

It would be safe to say that the majority of World of Flying's readers grew up wanting to be airline pilots, I know I did. I also wanted to be a garbage man, so the fable goes. I guess as an impressionable three-year-old, watching burly dudes hoist large drums of stinky refuse up on their shoulder as they carried it down my driveway to a big and very interesting truck was super groovy for a toddler.

When we think of working in the airline industry, the glamour jobs always come to mind. But today I visited avjobs.com, which looks to be the cream of the crop in airline employment sites. If one is out there that has more information, I could not find it.

Avjobs publishes a very thorough listing of what everyone makes in the sector, updated daily it seems. Today's listings – compiled as of 5.14.08 – shows the following national highlights:

Both an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic and Avionics Specialist will earn $40,000 on the low end, but the A & P can make $90,000 on the high end while the avionics tech's annual paycheck maxxes out at $72,000. A Flight Attendant's salary ranges from $55,000 - $60,000, higher then I would have expected. But it is still more then the Ground/Ramp workers who pull down $32,954 - $48,092. And as you might expect, Management brass make an average of $75,451 but can easily hit $200,000 even when their airline delivers poor service.

Hourly wages for various "behind-the-scenes" positions were surprisingly low. Dispatchers can barely exist on their $10.00 - $16.00/hr. pay, and the guy who plans the loads for a mighty 747 headed off over the pole only makes a maximum reported salary of $15/hr. That cranky reservations clerk only pulls in between $8.88 and $10.14 per hour, which makes me wonder if that is in USD or Indian Rupees. Contrast that with the
completely nuts salary of an Aerospace Engineer, who can earn a low of $13.00/hr. and a high of – get this – $2,600/hr.! That last wage HAS to be for a government contractor with a fat Pentagon no-bid contract.

Pilots who drive jets make considerably more then those who don't, as you might expect. A Cessna 208 pilot can earn $32,760 a year, while a PA-31 Navajo Captain in Dallas might fetch only $12.50/hr. Occupy the left seat of a B737NG and expect as much as $150,000 a year, far better than the Citation Ultra Captain at $57,000 a year. But what is completely bizarre is this: According to this Avjobs data, a Eclipse 500 Captain would do better on payday if flipping burgers, since his pay is listed at only $5.15/hr.! Someone please tell me this is a typo.
Like I said...all over the map. Do I still want to be an airline pilot? Since my age is a little north of fifty, no carrier would waste a dime on training me, and the constant discontent of your union fighting with management to fend off this week's pay cut would make me crazy. But flying for a living will always be the dream job for any pilot, and if I win the Powerball, expect Av8rdan to buy a Pilatus PC-12 and spend eternity making Angel Flights. What better way to finish out this life then to help sick kids and cancer patients get the treatment they deserve?

All that stands in my way of that lofty dream are six stupid little numbers, none of which ever seem to come up.

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