UPS Pilot Salary: Requirements, Process, and Pay

Ken Hyde

By Ken Hyde

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Breaking into the flight deck of a UPS jumbo jet is easier said than done. This plum position stays super competitive as aspiring pilots vie for a shot.

Want to find out if you have what it takes? And, more importantly, will it pay off down the line? We’ll lay out UPS pilot salary scales, job requirements, and application tips. Trust us, this is one read you don’t want to miss.

How Much Do UPS Pilots Make?

How much UPS pilots earn depends on the number of flight hours during the bid period, years of experience, and the type of aircraft they’re navigating. An FO can make about $60,000 in his first year and about $300,000 in his 15th year. Meanwhile, these numbers increase to approximately $70,000 and more than $450,000 for a captain, respectively.

Pilot jobs

Plus, there’s always some room for negotiation with the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) when it comes to contract extensions. Here is what first officers and captains can expect to make with the new UPS pilot pay scale agreed upon in the 2023 contract.

First Officer (FO)

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UPS first officer salary begins with a rate that might seem modest but quickly climbs as they gain experience and flight hours. For a rookie FO, the hourly rate is $56.07 in 2023. This translates to an annual paycheck of about $62,989, given they fly an average of 1123.4 hours a year.

Fast forward five years, and the scenery changes dramatically. Their rate boosts to $222.86 per hour, making their yearly earnings soar to around $250,361. Hitting the ten-year mark, the pay rate climbs to $247.95 per hour, with annual earnings of $278,547.

By the fifteenth year, they’re earning $266.68 per hour, which puts their yearly take-home at approximately $299,588.


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UPS captain salaries also take off impressively with time. In their first year, a captain earns an hourly rate of $56.07, similar to a first officer. However, due to more flight hours (1223.2 hours), their annual earnings are a bit higher at $68,585.

The financial trajectory for senior captains skyrockets from there. By their fifth year, they command an hourly rate of $348.08, which translates to an eye-opening $425,771 annually.

The ten-year mark brings an hourly rate of $357.74, with annual earnings reaching $437,588. And when they’ve been with UPS for fifteen years, they’re making $376.16 per hour. And that is how a UPS cargo pilot’s salary can culminate in a yearly income of $460,119.

About UPS Airline

With UPS, we’re looking at one of the biggest players in the global shipping game.

The main operational hub sits snugly at Louisville International Airport, which is pretty much the heart of its global operations. But it doesn’t stop there. UPS spreads its wings with additional hubs scattered around the globe. This is how the company makes sure your packages move as smoothly as night turns into day.

A list of domestic UPS hubs:

  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Ontario, California
  • Columbia, South Carolina 
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  • Miami, Florida

And these are other hubs UPS runs outside of the US:

  • Ontario, Canada
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Cologne, Germany
  • Derby, United Kingdom
  • Shanghai, China
  • Shenzhen, China
  • Hong Kong, China Kong
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The airline operates a massive fleet of nearly 300 aircraft across various models:

  • Boeing 767
  • Boeing 747
  • Boeing 757
  • Airbus A300
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-11F

How to Become A UPS Pilot

There is more than one route you can take with the hiring process. You can jump into the UPS FlightPath program to build experience. Or, if you’ve already got the chops, apply directly to UPS.

Train At Flight Schools

UPS FlightPath Program

The UPS FlightPath program splits into two main tracks. Each is designed to cater to different stages of a pilot’s career.

FlightPath I is created for recent graduates or those at the tail end of their college stint. It gives them a clear flight plan to rack up Part 135 flying hours with your flight crew.

To qualify, you should have graduated within the last 24 months or be a junior/senior in college, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and meet various certification and legal work requirements in the U.S. Keep your eyes peeled for application openings. They’re sporadic and only open for a short window.

Once you’ve interned, nabbed at least 500 hours under your belt (along with meeting other specific hour requirements), and grabbed a thumbs-up from the management team, you’re set to proceed with Ameriflight.

After successful completion, FlightPath II will take the baton from there. It selects candidates from Ameriflight for a 36-month stint aimed at preparing you for the big leagues at UPS.

This stage requires not just time but a standout work ethic. Before you can don the UPS uniform as a First Officer, you’ve got to meet or beat all the UPS pilot requirements set for your time at Ameriflight.

Direct Application as a Licensed Pilot

Seasoned aviators from other commercial airlines can choose to land a spot directly. However, the application window is notoriously short, so mark your calendars and stay vigilant.

If you’re already holding a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) or Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), here’s your minimum checklist:

  • Able to work in the US with a valid passport
  • An unrestricted ATP certificate with the right multi-engine class rating and English proficiency
  • A current FAA First Class Medical Certificate, along with an FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit
  • At least 1500 hours of total fixed-wing flight time under your belt

Just to be sure, know that UPS also prefers pilots with:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Recent transport category aircraft experience, ideally within the last 12 months
  • Minimum 1,000 hours PIC in jets and/or multi-engine turboprops
  • Military pilots can apply a 0.3 sortie factor to boost flight time

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Apply for a UPS Pilot Position?

Hit up the UPS careers page. Job openings pop up a few times a year. But don’t drag your feet—the windows to apply are brief.

What Benefits Do UPS Airline Pilots Receive Besides Their Salary?

UPS pilots get insurance, some decent paid time off, jumpseat privileges, discounts for them and their families, and solid healthcare coverage that includes medical, dental, and vision, among other things.

Is Landing a Pilot Job at UPS Competitive?

Absolutely. The cockpit’s a coveted spot, and with not too many seats available, the competition’s fierce.

View more pilot guides:


Embarking on this career path is no small feat. But for those who make it, average UPS pilot salaries and job security are quite attractive. We hope this guide has been a great help for whatever decision you’re about to make.

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Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde is the founder of The Wright Experience™. He is passionate about antique airplanes and has restored many of the Wright brothers' planes, including the 1918 Curtiss Jenny and the 1903 Wright Flyer. He is also a pilot and mechanic who has worked for Capital Airlines, Bendix Corporation, and American Airlines.

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