Average Pilot Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Pilot Salary in South Africa is R56,600 per month. An entry-level Pilot earns a salary range of R32,400, a Mid-career level earns about R58,400, and a senior/experienced level earns R77,800 per month.

Average Pilot Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Pilot 32,400
Mid-Career Pilot 58,400
Experienced Pilot 77,800

Types of Pilots and Their Functions in South Africa

In South Africa, the aviation industry encompasses various types of pilots, each with distinct functions and responsibilities. These pilots contribute to the efficient and safe operation of air travel across the country. Here are some key types of pilots and their functions in South Africa:

1. Commercial Airline Pilots

Commercial airline pilots operate large passenger and cargo aircraft, ensuring the safe transport of people and goods between domestic and international destinations. They follow strict flight schedules and adhere to aviation regulations.

2. Private Pilots

Private pilots fly aircraft for non-commercial purposes, such as personal travel or recreational flying. They may own their aircraft or rent one for leisure activities, contributing to the general aviation sector in South Africa.

3. Flight Instructors

Flight instructors play a crucial role in training aspiring pilots. They provide ground and flight instruction to students, helping them acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to obtain various pilot licenses.

4. Charter Pilots

Charter pilots operate smaller aircraft for on-demand, non-scheduled flights. These flights cater to specific client needs, including business travel, tourism, or emergency medical transport, contributing to flexible air travel options.

5. Agricultural Pilots (Crop Dusters)

Agricultural pilots specialize in aerial application, commonly known as crop dusting. They apply fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals to crops to enhance agricultural productivity, playing a vital role in the country’s farming industry.

6. Military Pilots

Military pilots serve in the South African Air Force, operating fighter jets, transport planes, and helicopters. Their responsibilities include national defence, surveillance, and supporting ground forces during military operations.

7. Helicopter Pilots

Helicopter pilots operate rotary-wing aircraft for various purposes, including medical evacuation, search and rescue missions, tourism, and aerial surveying. They provide essential services in both urban and remote areas.

8. Bush Pilots

Bush pilots navigate and land aircraft in challenging, remote, or undeveloped areas, often with limited infrastructure. They play a critical role in supporting activities such as wildlife conservation, mining operations, and remote community access.

9. Test Pilots

Test pilots assess the performance and safety of new or modified aircraft. They conduct rigorous flight tests, collecting data to ensure that the aircraft meets regulatory standards and performs as intended.

In conclusion, the diverse roles of pilots in South Africa contribute to the country’s economic development, connectivity, and national security. From commercial airline operations to specialized roles like agricultural and bush flying, each type of pilot plays a unique and significant part in the nation’s aviation landscape.

Factors Affecting Pilot Salaries in South Africa

Pilot salaries in South Africa are influenced by a multitude of factors, reflecting the complex nature of the aviation industry. Understanding these factors is crucial for aspiring pilots and aviation professionals. Below are key elements that contribute to the determination of pilot salaries in South Africa.

1. Experience and Expertise

One of the primary factors influencing pilot salaries is the level of experience and expertise. Newly licensed pilots typically earn lower salaries compared to their more seasoned counterparts. Airlines often reward pilots for accumulating flight hours, achieving higher pilot certifications, and gaining specialized skills.

2. Type of Aircraft

The type of aircraft a pilot operates significantly impacts their salary. Flying larger, more complex aircraft often comes with higher compensation due to the increased responsibility and skill required. Pilots operating long-haul international flights, for instance, may receive higher salaries compared to those flying regional routes.

3. Airline and Industry Trends

The financial health and policies of the airline itself play a crucial role in determining pilot salaries. Airlines facing economic challenges may implement cost-cutting measures, impacting pilot compensation. Additionally, industry trends, such as a high demand for pilots or a shortage of qualified professionals, can influence salaries.

4. Geographic Location

The cost of living in different regions of South Africa can vary significantly. Pilots based in major urban centres may receive higher salaries to offset the increased living expenses. Remote or less expensive areas may offer lower salaries, although this can be balanced by other factors such as lifestyle preferences.

5. Collective Bargaining Agreements

Pilot salaries are often influenced by collective bargaining agreements between pilot unions and airlines. These agreements stipulate the terms and conditions of employment, including salary structures, benefits, and working hours. Pilots working for airlines with strong unions may benefit from higher negotiated salaries.

6. Educational Background

Pilots with advanced educational qualifications, such as aeronautical engineering degrees or additional certifications, may receive higher salaries. Educational achievements beyond the basic licensing requirements can enhance a pilot’s skill set and market value.

7. Economic Factors

The overall economic conditions in South Africa can impact pilot salaries. In times of economic downturn, airlines may face financial constraints, affecting their ability to offer competitive salaries. Conversely, economic growth and stability may lead to increased demand for air travel and higher pilot salaries.

How to Become a Pilot in South Africa

To become a pilot in South Africa, follow these comprehensive steps:

1. Educational Requirements

Obtain a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or an equivalent qualification with subjects such as Mathematics and Physical Science. These subjects are essential for aviation studies.

2. Choose a Reputable Flight School

Research and select a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved flight school. Consider factors like reputation, facilities, and success rates.

3. Medical Fitness

Undergo a Class 1 aviation medical examination from a designated aviation medical examiner. This ensures you meet the medical standards required for a pilot’s license.

4. Private Pilot License (PPL)

Enroll in a PPL program, which includes both theoretical and practical training. Theoretical subjects usually cover air law, navigation, meteorology, and aircraft technical systems.

Log a minimum of 45 flight hours, including at least 20 hours of flight training with an instructor and 5 hours of solo flight. Pass the PPL theoretical and practical exams.

5. Night Rating (Optional)

Consider obtaining a night rating to expand your flying capabilities. This involves additional training in night flying procedures.

6. Commercial Pilot License (CPL)

Enroll in a CPL program after obtaining the PPL. CPL training includes more advanced flight manoeuvres and navigation techniques.

Accumulate a minimum of 200 total flight hours, including 100 hours as pilot-in-command. Pass the CPL theoretical exams and the practical flight test.

7. Instrument Rating (IR)

Pursue an instrument rating to fly in various weather conditions. This involves training on flying solely by reference to instruments.

8. Multi-Engine Rating (ME)

If aiming for an airline career, consider obtaining a multi-engine rating. This allows you to operate aircraft with multiple engines.

9. Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)

Gain experience and log a minimum of 1,500 flight hours to qualify for an ATPL. This license is necessary for becoming a captain on commercial flights.

Pass the ATPL theoretical exams and the final practical assessment. This marks the pinnacle of your training.

10. Job Search and Networking

Begin the job search by networking with aviation professionals and applying to airlines. Gain experience in entry-level positions like a first officer or flight instructor.

11. Keep Learning

Stay updated on industry regulations and advancements. Continuous learning is crucial for a successful aviation career.

12. Maintain Physical and Mental Well-being

Adhere to strict physical and mental health standards. Regular medical examinations are essential to keep your pilot’s license valid.

By following these steps and staying committed to continuous improvement, aspiring pilots can navigate the process of becoming licensed professionals in South Africa’s aviation industry.



The average Pilot Salary in South Africa is R56,600 per month. Pilot salaries in South Africa are subject to a range of interconnected factors, reflecting the dynamic nature of the aviation industry. Aspiring pilots should consider these elements when planning their careers, understanding that a combination of experience, aircraft type, industry trends, and negotiations can shape their earning potential in this challenging and rewarding profession.