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United Airlines Pilot Salary – How to Become a United Pilot




Here’s a comprehensive look at flying for United, including a look at United Airlines pilot salary numbers.

United is one of America’s largest major airlines, headquartered in Chicago and in business since 1926. When United merged with Continental in 2010, it became the third-largest airline in the world. 

The company flies to 238 US destinations and 118 international ones in 48 countries. In 2022, it employed over 70,000 workers and carried 144 million people on its 868 aircraft. Around 15,000 of those employees are pilots. 

This article is part of our ongoing series on airline pilot salaries.

Where are United’s Pilot Bases?

  • Chicago-O’Hare, IL – ORD
  • Denver, CO – DEN
  • Los Angeles, CA – LAX
  • San Francisco, CA – SFO
  • Newark – EWR
  • Washington-Dulles, VA – IAD
  • Houston-Intercontinental, TX – IAH
United Airlines new 2023 pilot pay

What Airplanes are in the United Airlines Fleet?

  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Boeing 737 (-700, -800, -900)
  • Boeing 757 (-200, -300)
  • Boeing 767 (-300ER, -400ER)
  • Boeing 777 (-200, -300ER)
  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner (-8, -9, -10)

In December of 2022, United made one of the largest aircraft orders in history when they ordered 100 more Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with options for 100 more after that. Additionally, they have options to take delivery of 44 more Boeing 737MAX aircraft between 2024 and 2026 and 56 more before 2028. 

With all of their orders combined, United expects to take delivery of two aircraft every week of 2023 and three every week of 2024. For pilots looking to fly newer aircraft, it’s hard to imagine any airline with a newer fleet than United.

become a united airlines pilot

What are the Hiring Requirements for United Pilots?

United has three categories of requirements you must meet before you can apply to be a first officer. If you don’t yet meet these requirements, you can apply for a first officer position with a United Express regional carrier or through the Aviate pathway program.

United divides its hiring requirements into certification, flight time, and general employment requirements.

Certification Requirements

  • Hold an unrestricted ATP with Airplane-Multiengine class rating
  • Hold a current FAA First-Class Medical Certificate
  • Hold an FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR)

Flight Time Requirements

  • Required: 1,500 hours total time
  • Preferred: 1,000 hours of fixed-wing turbine and 100 hours in the last 12 months

General Requirements

  • Current passport
  • Legal to work in the US without sponsorship
  • Able to travel without restriction in the US and to all United international destinations
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Preferred: Bachelor’s degree 
  • International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever (Yellow Card)
  • Reliable, punctual attendance and no planned absences during the first 12 weeks of employment
united airlines jets at terminal

United Airlines Pilot Salary

Pay rates for United pilots range from starting First Officers at approximately $109,000 per year to senior Captains earning $312,000 or more annually. Pay is based on a guaranteed 70 flying hours per month.

As with all pilot jobs at the majors, the actual take-home pay depends on years with the company and the equipment you fly. While all first-year First Officers start at the same pay, the quicker you upgrade or transition to bigger equipment, the faster you’ll start making more money. Please note that the numbers below are simple approximations.

United Airlines First Officer Pay

Year 1$109,000
Year 5$206,000
Year 8$231,000
These numbers are a rough estimate of a United Airlines First Officer Pay but this can vary significantly depending on what aircraft they fly.

United Airlines Captain Pay

Year 1$312,000
Year 5$320,000
Year 12$338,000
These numbers are a rough estimate of a United Airlines Captain Pay but this can vary significantly depending on what aircraft they fly.

Ever wonder, how much do pilots make? Check out our salary guide for every airline.

Is a Job at United Right For You?

A few factors make United one of the top airlines to work for as a pilot. For one, their benefits package is excellent. In addition to retirement packages and health plans, the company offers unlimited standby travel and discounted tickets to anywhere they fly (which is pretty much everywhere!)

The company also touts its inclusive and diverse workforce, earning recognition from organizations like Women in Aviation, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, and the Human Rights Campaign.

ALPA, the Air Line Pilots Association, represents United Pilots. Pilots agreed to a new four-year contract in September 2023 that amounted to a 40 percent pay increase. It also includes “substantial” improvements in quality of life, vacation, and other benefits. 

How Do I Apply for a United Airlines Pilot Job?

United accepts pilots from several different pathways depending on how much experience you possess. There are special programs for military pilots and current United employees.

Anyone with an unrestricted ATP certificate and the minimum flight time requirements can apply directly to United for an FO position.

All other candidates should check out the United Aviate pathway program.

This program is designed to take you from any phase of your flight training, from before you start to those time-building at flight schools, and guide you into a career at United.

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