Types of Airline Pilot Jobs
As an airline pilot, you would have many different career options:
- Mainline Carrier. Transport passengers to destinations around the world. American, Delta, and United are a few examples of mainline carriers. Read A Day in the Life of a Mainline Pilot.
- Low-cost carrier. Transport passengers to domestic and some international destinations for an airline that uses a no-frills business model of lower fares and fewer comforts. A few examples are JetBlue, Spirit, and Southwest.
- Regional airline. Transport passengers domestically with some limited international destinations on a smaller airline that operates “regionally” under one or more mainline brands. For example, Compass Airlines operates flights as American Eagle and Delta Connection; ExpressJet Airlines operates as American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express; and Mesa Airlines operates as American Eagle and United Express flights. Read A Day in the Life of a Regional Pilot.
- Cargo carrier. Transport cargo around the world for brands such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Read A Day in the Life of a Cargo Pilot.
- Military. Find out more about this career path.
- Flight instructor. Teach aspiring aviators and build flight time.
- Corporate aviation. Transport passengers and/or cargo for a corporation or business.
- Charter operation. Also known as for-hire operation, there is no set schedule, and you could potentially fly to many different types of destinations.
- Freight airline. Operate flights on subcontracts to a cargo carrier like FedEx or UPS. May have less restrictive requirements for pilot certifications than some other pilot career options.
- Ferry operation. Fly an aircraft for the purpose of delivering the aircraft itself to a person or business.
- Government service. Fly for state agencies, such as the governor’s office.
- Law enforcement. Fly border patrol missions, catch speeders for state troopers, or even find growth facilities in the forest.
- Fire-fighting. Find the safe path for a fire bomber or pilot the fire-bomber itself!
- Emergency medical service. Fly patients and life-critical aid and organs all over the globe.
- Crop duster operation. Spray chemicals over farm land.
- Banner towing. For great summer months flying up and down the coasts.
- Media. Fly for traffic reporting companies or news organizations.
- Tour guide. Fly over landmarks and areas of interest to provide passengers a sky-high view of our nation’s treasures.
- Airshow stunt. Show off the beauty and thrill of coordinated flight.
- Contract work. Can fall under charter, corporate, or any work that may come up on a need-for-need basis.
- Test pilots. These pilots usually have a military or engineering background and use that knowledge to test that new aircraft are safe to fly.
- Equipment testing. Pipeline patrols and powerline patrol pilots spend many hours flying over our nation’s infrastructure looking for faults.