There are currently an estimated 84,000 pilots in the United States. The pilot job market is expected to grow by 3.5% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are pilots?

CareerExplorer rates pilots with a D employability rating, meaning this career should provide weak employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 9,300 pilots. That number is based on 2,900 additional pilots, and the retirement of 6,400 existing pilots.

Are pilots in demand?

Most opportunities for pilots will be with regional and low-cost airlines and in general and corporate aviation, because these segments of the industry are expected to experience stronger growth. Due to increasing safety requirements for shipping payloads on passenger airlines and the ever-growing demand for global freight, cargo carriers may need to expand their pilot workforces. Competition at major commercial airlines and for positions with federal, state, and local governments will remain especially strong. The most sought after candidates will be those with military experience and the greatest number of flying and instrument hours. As international carriers, from Asia in particular, continue to lure qualified pilots away from North America, those who remain in the United States and Canada will encounter more openings. Stricter FAA training requirements for pilots, meaning airlines can no longer hire less qualified personnel, will add to this demand. The industry’s mandatory retirement age of sixty-five and the ongoing introduction of larger aircraft needing larger pilot crews will consistently produce job openings in the field. While the Asia-Pacific region is creating the highest demand for pilots, new market opportunities, such as the opening of Cuba to U.S. travellers and increased intra-Europe traffic will help to sustain, if not strengthen, overall demand. Non-traditional opportunities for pilots will exist with flight schools and a variety of businesses, including those that provide air ambulance, crop dusting, pipeline inspection, and sightseeing flights.

What’s the supply of pilots?

The pilot industry is concentrated in Texas, California, Illinois

Pilot job market by state

State Name Employed Pilots
Texas 11,360
California 9,000
Illinois 6,880
Georgia 6,760
New York 6,060
Florida 4,970
Arizona 3,100
Colorado 3,080
Minnesota 2,890
Michigan 2,740
Virginia 2,600
Washington 2,430
North Carolina 2,430
Alaska 2,160
Nevada 1,310
Hawaii 1,010
Ohio 980
Oregon 660
Indiana 640
Alabama 310
Tennessee 280
Oklahoma 200
Mississippi 200
Wyoming 130
Louisiana 120
South Carolina 80
Montana 80
Connecticut 80
Arkansas 80
West Virginia 80
Puerto Rico 60
New Mexico 60
Iowa 50
Wisconsin 50
North Dakota 50
Maine 40
South Dakota 30
New Hampshire 30