Pilots are one of the happiest careers in the United States.

At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, pilots rate their career happiness 3.8 out of 5 stars which puts them in the top 15% of careers.

To put this into perspective, we compared how happy pilots are to similar careers in the industry. Take a look at the results below:

Salaries and satisfaction ratings in similar careers

Career Satisfaction Avg Salary
Pilot
3.8
$202k
Commercial pilot
3.8
$100k
Ship captain
3.5
$82k
Air crew officer
3.4
$202k
Air traffic controller
3.3
$130k

So what does it mean to be happy in your career? Let’s break it down into different dimensions:

Are pilots happy with their salary?

Pilots rated their satisfaction with their salaries 3.4/5. The majority of pilots are quite happy with their salaries, with very few having complaints about their income level.

We asked pilots how fairly compensated they are for their work.
Their response was:

3.4 out of 5 stars

256 pilots

5 Star
27%

27% of pilots rated their compensation 5 stars

4 Star
26%

26% of pilots rated their compensation 4 stars

3 Star
21%

21% of pilots rated their compensation 3 stars

2 Star
13%

13% of pilots rated their compensation 2 stars

1 Star
13%

13% of pilots rated their compensation 1 stars

Do pilots find their jobs meaningful?

On average, pilots rate the meaningfulness of their work a 3.6/5. Unlike many careers, pilots have little difficulty finding meaning in their work, and it likely constitutes one of the main reasons people become pilots.

We asked pilots how meaningful they found their work.
Their response was:

3.6 out of 5 stars

265 pilots

5 Star
33%

33% of pilots rated how meaningful they found their career 5 stars

4 Star
24%

24% of pilots rated how meaningful they found their career 4 stars

3 Star
22%

22% of pilots rated how meaningful they found their career 3 stars

2 Star
12%

12% of pilots rated how meaningful they found their career 2 stars

1 Star
9%

9% of pilots rated how meaningful they found their career 1 stars

How well are people’s personalities suited to everyday tasks as pilots?

Pilots rated their personality fit with their work an average of 4.1/5. The majority of pilots find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

We asked pilots how well their personalities fit into their careers.
Their response was:

4.1 out of 5 stars

287 pilots

5 Star
42%

42% of pilots rated their career fit 5 stars

4 Star
36%

36% of pilots rated their career fit 4 stars

3 Star
14%

14% of pilots rated their career fit 3 stars

2 Star
6%

6% of pilots rated their career fit 2 stars

1 Star
3%

3% of pilots rated their career fit 1 stars

How enjoyable is a pilot’s work environment?

As a whole, pilots rated their enjoyment of their work environment 3.9/5. A solid majority of pilots enjoy their work environment, probably contributing to overall higher satisfaction with working as a pilot.

We asked pilots how much they enjoyed their work environment.
Their response was:

3.9 out of 5 stars

282 pilots

5 Star
41%

41% of pilots rated their work environment 5 stars

4 Star
27%

27% of pilots rated their work environment 4 stars

3 Star
17%

17% of pilots rated their work environment 3 stars

2 Star
10%

10% of pilots rated their work environment 2 stars

1 Star
5%

5% of pilots rated their work environment 1 stars

Are pilots making the best use of their abilities?

Former pilots on CareerExplorer have rated their skills utilization 3.8/5. Most pilots surveyed find that they manage to use their abilities to their fullest as a pilot, which helps contribute to higher career satisfaction in the long term.

We asked pilots how well their abilities were used in their careers.
Their response was:

3.8 out of 5 stars

283 pilots

5 Star
40%

40% of pilots rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 5 stars

4 Star
25%

25% of pilots rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 4 stars

3 Star
19%

19% of pilots rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 3 stars

2 Star
10%

10% of pilots rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 2 stars

1 Star
6%

6% of pilots rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 1 stars