Cargo pilots fly delivery routes across the country and internationally delivering packages from a wide variety of companies, consumers and government departments. The salary of cargo pilots depends largely on what type of aircraft the pilots are operating, the total experience pilots have with certain aircrafts and the sensitivity of the cargo in transit. All cargo pilots must adhere to strict guidelines for flying times and rest periods to reduce the likelihood of fatigue-induced accidents.
National Salary Figures
Almost 69,000 airline pilots, including cargo pilots, found employment in the U.S. as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is almost a five percent jump in employment numbers from 2009. The mean annual wage for all airline pilots across the country as of that year is $115,300. This mean annual salary represents a 2.4 percent increase from the previous year. The middle 50 percent of all airline pilots earn an annual salary of $103,210, as of May 2010.
Scheduled Air Transportation
Cargo pilots working for airlines performing scheduled cargo deliveries across the country earned a mean annual wage of $116,930, as of May 2010. This figure also includes airline pilots performing scheduled transportation routes for human passengers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 58,000 pilots found employment in this industry as of May 2010. This makes scheduled air transportation by far the dominant industry for employing cargo pilots in the U.S.
Government Cargo Delivery
Civilian cargo pilots may also find employment with government agencies like the U.S. Postal Service who use cargo planes to deliver mail quickly from coast to coast and around the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3,000 pilots found employment with the federal government as of May 2010. The mean annual wage for these professionals is $99,640. Pilots working in this capacity for the government account for only 0.15 percent of total employment for the industry.
Non-Scheduled Air Transportation
Non-scheduled air transportation can involve the transportation of sensitive cargo on a moment's notice. Companies use this type of transportation when no standard shipping route exists and customers order products for immediate or next-day delivery. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pilots working in non-scheduled air transportation earn a mean annual salary of $89,870 as of May 2010. Pilots may fly delivery routes in this industry on either a local, national or international basis depending on certification and total flying hours.