There are currently an estimated 40,800 commercial pilots in the United States. The commercial pilot job market is expected to grow by 3.7% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are commercial pilots?

CareerExplorer rates commercial pilots with a C employability rating, meaning this career should provide moderate employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 7,900 commercial pilots. That number is based on 1,500 additional commercial pilots, and the retirement of 6,400 existing commercial pilots.

Are commercial pilots in demand?

Unlike airline pilots who fly aircraft on scheduled service, commercial pilots handle unscheduled cargo, passenger, and other flights. Demand and employment options for applicants in this sector of piloting are wide; they include companies that offer corporate and individual charters, air-taxi flights, firefighting services, rescue operations, medical airlifts, crop dusting, pipeline inspection, sightseeing, aerial photography, and flying lessons. This diversity of opportunities presents a relatively positive job outlook for commercial pilots. It also means that employment prospects for these pilots are less susceptible to economic downturns, which generally do not simultaneously impact every area in which they may be hired. Air ambulance operators, in particular, are expected to add positions over the next decade. Retirees from the field should further increase overall demand. Pilots with the greatest number of flight and instrument hours typically have an employment advantage, as do those skilled in flying both piston-driven and turbine engine-powered aircraft. Military pilot experience is, therefore, considered an especially valuable asset in this occupation.

What’s the supply of commercial pilots?

The commercial pilot industry is concentrated in Texas, California, Florida

Commercial Pilot job market by state

State Name Employed Commercial Pilots
Texas 5,100
California 3,890
Florida 3,680
Ohio 1,670
Arizona 1,630
North Carolina 1,250
Washington 1,130
Michigan 1,120
New York 1,120
Alabama 1,030
Georgia 1,020
Illinois 1,010
Louisiana 820
Arkansas 760
Colorado 760
Oklahoma 660
Nevada 650
Alaska 620
Virginia 560
Pennsylvania 550
Minnesota 540
Missouri 530
Indiana 520
Maryland 510
Oregon 490
Nebraska 460
Montana 450
Massachusetts 440
South Dakota 390
Tennessee 380
Mississippi 360
Kentucky 360
Wisconsin 360
Connecticut 330
South Carolina 330
Iowa 320
North Dakota 310
New Jersey 310
Kansas 310
Delaware 270
Hawaii 260
Idaho 210
West Virginia 210
Utah 180
New Mexico 150
Wyoming 130
Maine 80
New Hampshire 80
Vermont 70
Rhode Island 50
District of Columbia 30