Test Pilot

Test-fly and evaluate bleeding edge aerospace designs.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$35,000 – $120,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Test Pilots do?

Every product must go through a phase of trial and error. A new cake flavor or a new bicycle design, for example, must be tested first before it is made available to consumers. But while many would certainly volunteer to try out peanut butter cupcakes, it would be a million times harder to sign people up to test fly helicopters and airplanes. Good thing for the rest of us, Test Pilots like a little thrill in their lives.

A new airplane must undergo a series of flights before being turned over for commercial use. As a Test Pilot, you test for reliability and safety during these flights, as well as evaluate experimental equipment like new radar systems. Because you’re willing to take it for a test spin, the rest of us don’t need to panic about the plane’s maiden voyage. We know you’ve already stomped on the brakes, pulled back the yoke, climbed and descended, and monitored all the gauges and lights before we even have to set foot in it.

Newly rebuilt or renovated planes and helicopters also get your stamp of approval before being released back into the fray. As a Test Pilot, you test a variety of flying machines, including biplanes, private jets, military helicopters, police aircraft, and cargo planes, in addition to your run-of-the-mill 400-passenger 747.

Whether the aircraft is newly refurbished or hot off the assembly line, this job requires good physical health. It’s not physically demanding, but you need acute mental awareness, good vision and hearing, perfect equilibrium, and a reliable heart. You also need to have an ability to stay calm under pressure, make quick decisions, and communicate well with a variety of personalities.

Should I be a Test Pilot?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: EMS Rotary Wing Pilot, Fixed Wing Pilot, Line Pilot, Mapping Pilot, Pest-Control Pilot, Transport Pilot See More

    How to become a Test Pilot

    Test Pilots often have an Associate's degree or higher. Chart?chd=s:s9jraa&chl=no+college+%2814%25%29|certificate+%2846%25%29|associate%27s+%287%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2832%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,14,46
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