Commercial Pilots

risk level
Based on 1,534 votes
by 2031
or $49.95 hourly
as of 2022

Automation risk

54% (Moderate Risk)

Moderate Risk (41-60%): Occupations with a moderate risk of automation usually involve routine tasks but still require some human judgment and interaction.

More information on what this score is, and how it is calculated is available here.

Some quite important qualities of the job are difficult to automate:

  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions

  • Manual Dexterity

  • Finger Dexterity

  • Assisting and Caring for Others

  • Social Perceptiveness

User poll

44% chance of full automation within the next two decades

Our visitors have voted that it's unclear if this occupation will be replaced. This assessment is further supported by the calculated automation risk level, which estimates 54% chance of automation.

What do you think the risk of automation is?

What is the likelihood that this occupation will be replaced by robots or AI in the next 20 years?


Moderate growth relative to other professions

The number of 'Commercial Pilots' job openings is expected to rise 5.1% by 2031

Total employment, and estimated job openings

* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period between 2021 and 2031.
Updated projections are due Sep 2023.


Very high paid relative to other professions

In 2022, the median annual wage for 'Commercial Pilots' was $103,910, or $49.95 per hour

'Commercial Pilots' were paid 124.4% higher than the national median wage, which stood at $46,310

Wages over time

* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Moderate range of job opportunities compared to other professions

As of 2022 there were 48,750 people employed as Commercial Pilots within the United States.

This represents around 0.03% of the employed workforce across the country.

Put another way, around 1 in 3 thousand people are employed as Commercial Pilots.

Job description

Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft on nonscheduled air carrier routes, or helicopters. Requires Commercial Pilot certificate. Includes charter pilots with similar certification, and air ambulance and air tour pilots. Excludes regional, national, and international airline pilots.

SOC Code: 53-2012.00


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Leave a comment

dbWizard.24.7 (Highly likely) says
Increased drone activity by the DoD. Computer-operated fighter aircraft.

Increased positive factors:

- Reliability
- Less cockpit space
- Redesign of aircraft for more efficiency
- Does not get sick
- Does not have family problems

Goodbye, human pilots...
Jan 02, 2022 at 12:24 PM
Erwin says
I think it is very possible that the robots are the drivers and it would be good, but that should not be a problem for human pilots since without a doubt a well-prepared pilot must go inside that cockpit capable of solving faults, we know that no technology is 100% secure as they are also configured by humans.

Many will think then there will no longer be positions for many pilots. Quite the contrary, within 20 years the demand for flights will double, therefore the supply of flights must grow, in more; airlines will have to think of incredible strata to hire more pilots and with better preparation.

I personally would not get on an autonomous flight, that is (with no one in the cabin) knowing that we live in a world where powers constantly seek to harm each other through hackers and all kinds of manipulations. At least I would like to think that the person who pilots the aircraft is also someone who wants to return home and therefore puts everything of himself to save himself in an emergency.
Aug 27, 2021 at 04:30 AM
Alberto (Highly likely) says
Autonomous flights are very likely as techonology advances in this field.
Aug 22, 2021 at 02:04 PM
Ivo Muiño (Likely) says
This job could be replaced by an AI in 15 or 20 years. When these kinds of intelligence will be safe and ready to be implemented in different sectors.
Aug 03, 2021 at 11:47 PM
Bobby (Highly likely) says
Airlines are easier to automate than self-driving cars due to fewer variables. There has been automation in aeroplanes for a while. Drones and flight runs of Boeing planes in the 70s show that the potential of flight automation is possible.
Jul 28, 2021 at 01:10 AM
Yash Vyas (Small chance) says
Even if AI takes over aviation in the next few decades, there will be high chances of system errors in which safety will be at stake and even hijacking could take place easily as all the hijacker needs to do is to hack into the robot. This will result is a huge decline for the aviation industry and then dissolve it completely.
Jun 12, 2021 at 06:10 PM
Bee (Could go either way) says
I'm not too sure if humans would feel entirely comfortable with a completely automated flight without at least the supervision of a human pilot.
May 01, 2021 at 06:27 PM
Char H. (Small chance) says
My Dad flies for American Airlines and he is irreplaceable, lol, but all jokes aside, If robots take over, what if they fail? The plane will go down and (depends on the size of the plane and amount of passengers) about 200 people are dead because they fell out of the sky due to a robot and people who thought it would work
Mar 18, 2021 at 02:26 PM
Shata (No chance) says
Pilot wages are the 2 highest as compared to other 500+jobs. The salary of pilot is for the risk hardworking reborious and sacrifice ful job .....
Driving a plane, ship, train, without drivers and operators will let to serious problems and we will suffer a huge loss....
Robots are designed by AI companies are good...but when it replaces a valuable job it is often quiet miseryful ....
The one thing i am telling..
WIN.Only one difference
(Humans:can take own decisions. Robots :cannot take own decisions.)
So we should never think to replace train drivers .pilots. ship operators .
This i told is my opinion and research on that job..
Mar 10, 2021 at 02:50 PM
Zoli (Small chance) says
It's a long way until people can trust a robot well enough to actually fly an airplane, and AI is really far from the point that it can actually evaluate between two or more situations and get a meaningful answer. That's why at least one human will always be on the flight.
Feb 28, 2021 at 04:50 PM
hopeful future pilot (Small chance) says
It will take yyeeeeears until people are willing to go on a plane with no pilots at all.
Feb 04, 2021 at 08:04 PM
Saketh Reddy (Small chance) says
Because there is no auto-driving technology in the vehicles, and airplanes are way more complicated to fly so, even if pilots are been replaced by robots it may take up to 3 decades to make that possible.
Dec 09, 2020 at 02:42 AM
Mp (Highly likely) says
Airbus already has an airliner that can fly all phases of flight by itself. It's only a matter of getting the FAA and the public to accept pilotless aircraft.
Jan 20, 2022 at 09:26 AM
Gaurang Ghare (Highly likely) says
The US military already seems to possess unmanned aircrafts & so, if that’s possible, then in the near future, the possibility of the unmanned commercial aircrafts existing is as well feasible.
Nov 29, 2020 at 03:36 AM
Evan (No chance) says
Would anyone buy a plane ticket if they knew no one on the plane knows how to fly the plane
Nov 22, 2020 at 10:28 PM
Erling Haaland (No chance) says
Every plane will need a pilot to make sure the robots run correctly
Nov 22, 2020 at 03:10 PM
Jesus says
People with fear to fly wont believe a plane in which the pilot is not even in the plane
Nov 02, 2020 at 05:45 AM
Juan Pablo Pérez (No chance) says
Human decision in emergencies will never be replaced, so, pilots will not be replaced
Oct 13, 2020 at 01:27 PM
Bob says
People don’t realize here that commercial pilot is not necessarily airline pilot. There is another poll for airline pilot and it’s at 18% chance....
Oct 10, 2020 at 07:46 AM
Anonymous (No chance) says
No way a plane can: start, turnoff, do the right procedures in emergency and everything else.
Aug 27, 2020 at 03:34 AM
matias says
YES, there are already robots that managed to start, land and everything you want
Nov 30, 2020 at 08:15 PM
Saketh Reddy says
yeah, there are many critical situations where robots can not handle them. not every situation is the same they need to think to overcome the situation, and robots cannot do that. And robots are not trustable they can malfunction at any moment....!!!
Dec 09, 2020 at 02:51 AM
Anonymous Bus (Likely) says
Automatically starting up a plane is no problem, we already have toy robots that do so. Same with turning off.

It'll be even rarer to find yourself in an emergency, as the plane is literally a robot that can know if something is wrong even before something bad happens. Kinda like having chest pain and you know it, versus if you were controlled by somebody else, they wouldn't know.

In the case you do find yourself in an emergency, it's all just patterns and algorithms. Bird strike in the engine? It could use If This Than That commands, which they teach in elementary schools nowadays

I give it 20-60 years we see automation take over pilots.
Mar 09, 2021 at 02:34 PM
max says
the autopilot already does 98% of the flying. The only thing it cannot do is takeoff. It can land and fly the whole route
Jul 03, 2021 at 05:30 PM
Ali (Highly likely) says
Considering pilot wages are the second highest cost in airline business after fuel, replacing it with AI really offers opportunity.
Jun 07, 2020 at 08:43 PM
Max (Small chance) says
The public has always been a little paranoid about planes and they will continue to be for the foreseeable future. People would need to fully confident that any scenario the plane faces could be solved by the robot. Therefore, automation with pilot supervision is likely in the next 20 or so years, but not 100% automation
May 17, 2020 at 09:48 PM
Pierce says
It's already been proven that robots cannot accurately assess and safely land an aircraft in distress. One only needs to look to the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline crashes.
May 16, 2021 at 02:25 PM
Shush shush (No chance) says
Humans will not trust robots to fly a plane any time soon and malfunctions in them will cause the aviation authorities to refuse robots from working as commercial pilots.
Apr 04, 2020 at 04:47 PM
Concerned (Highly likely) says
Autopilot and self driving tech will present an issue for pilots
Mar 10, 2020 at 01:40 PM
ss (No chance) says
I think robots would be actually created for airplanes as there is already one that was tested some years ago however I don’t think anyone would trust a robot to fly an airplane with passengers.
Mar 09, 2020 at 02:34 AM
James (No chance) says
The airline industry takes safety *very* seriously. Replacing AI with a human would not improve safety. For standard, day to day operations, AI would be fine however, for emergencies, humans excel over AI. If the power on the plane is out, a human can still operate, a robot cannot. All it takes is for both engines to fail for the power to go out.
Mar 08, 2020 at 03:29 PM
EM (Likely) says
I do feel like it is very likely that Pilots in general will eventually be overrun by robots. People are already working on planes or smaller aircraft that drive the user to wherever they need to go without being operated by a person. It is likely and I agree that it is something you should be worried about eventually if you are a pilot.
Mar 04, 2020 at 05:12 PM
talib says
its already taking the job it should be around 90%
Mar 02, 2020 at 07:14 AM
Bob says
I don’t think you actually understand how autopilot works.
Also if think 44% was generous check to see what they say for airline pilot (commercial and airline pilot are two different thing) it’s 18% for what they call airline captain
Aug 27, 2020 at 03:57 PM
Bob says
No it isn’t.... autopilot can’t fly anything it can only do what the pilots tell it to do. Also commercial pilot is not airline pilot.
Oct 10, 2020 at 07:41 AM
Tyler (No chance) says
Wishful thinking, I'm in college and plan to become a commercial pilot, please don't make it all for nothing.
Jan 24, 2020 at 05:42 AM
Corey Trevor (Small chance) says
Few passengers will be willing to fly on a pilot-less plane. Maybe some operations, like cargo, will be automated.
Dec 16, 2019 at 12:04 AM
Zio (Small chance) says
It is very likely that there will be job loss because of automation in the aviation industry. From the past 50 or so years we have went to having 3 pilots to 2 in the cockpit. However, there will always be a need for one person there to handle special case scenarios and emergencies which can happen at any time and are unpredictable, which goes against everything AI stands for. So I think in the next 20 years or is we will see some job loss as companies will only need 1 person there.
Dec 12, 2019 at 09:33 PM
Youssef (Small chance) says
From the recent 2 crashes that happened because of AI failure and people paranoid about this idea and people are still scared when humans are flying but air transport is the safest way of travel meaning that it would have HUGE impact if AI took over its possible that they could take over flying but not in two decades like by 2040 or 50
Nov 08, 2019 at 09:02 PM
Thomas (Could go either way) says
Because they will need someone to look after the robot in case something goes wrong so they might as well just have a normal pilot
Sep 02, 2019 at 08:30 AM
belal (No chance) says
I believe that even if the robot takes the job humans must oversee the operation
Aug 19, 2019 at 04:29 AM

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