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How much are pilots paid? British Airways opens applications for fully paid training academy scheme

(Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)
(Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)

A new British Airways programme is allowing prospective pilots to apply for a spot and have the full £100,000 cost of their training paid for by the airline.

Up to 60 successful candidates will be able to overcome the previously prohibitive cost barrier of training to become an airline pilot each year thanks to the national flag carrier's Speedbird Pilot Academy programme, helping to level the playing field and make a career in aviation a viable option for everyone.

The airline hopes eliminating the expensive fees of pilot training will encourage people from all communities to apply.

British Airways’ careers website now accepts applications for the programme, and those interested are urged to do so as soon as possible because the application period will expire in seven days due to the unprecedented demand.

Early in the next year, training will start, and after passing the programme, applicants will be hired by the airline as full-time, salaried pilots.

It is the only airline programme that covers all associated fees for successful applicants during their 16-month training term, and it also covers housing and food expenses.

But how much do pilots earn and what do you need to become a pilot? Here’s what you need to know.

How much do pilots earn?

Pilot salary changes depending on the hours flown and the airline you work for.

Prospects estimate that a pilot's entry-level pay as a Junior First Officer at a significant airline will be roughly £24,000 for a smaller airline and £28,000 for a larger company.

As you gain more flying experience, you'll advance to the position of Senior First Officer. The Captain is followed in command by a Senior First Officer.

The average pay for an experienced First Officer in the UK, according to PayScale, is £43,668. Since you would be second in command to the Captain as a Senior First Officer, you will have a lot more responsibilities and earn roughly twice as much money as you would as a Junior First Officer.

Senior First Officers at British Airways make, on average, £58,204 annually.

Large airlines like British Airways pay about £10,000 more than the normal First Officer pilot salary, thus positions there are in high demand.

If you get promoted to Captain, the average British Airways yearly pay in England is approximately £130,757, according to Indeed.

What do you need to become a pilot?

To fly for a commercial airline, you must have a Class 1 Medical Certificate and an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

If you have never flown before, becoming a pilot may take 16 to 18 months.

Although you must be at least 18 to begin pilot training, you can’t obtain an ATPL until you are 21.

A significant financial commitment is needed. The price of training can range from £70,000 to £130,000.

There is also a two-year part-time "modular" route that enables you to work while you study.

Trainees must have strong GCSE results in science, maths and English. Learning a second language will also be beneficial. A degree is not always required, however good A-level grades are typically required.