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First Officer Careers

First officers, also referred to as co-pilots, are the second in command of the aircraft after the captain. They assist the captain in flight preparation and in overseeing the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft. They are also the people on hand to fly the plane in the event of incapacitation of the captain. Generally, a first officer is an extremely essential member of the cabin crew in any aircraft.

Successful first officers should have strong relevant technical skills. Other essential skills include good communication skills, attention to detail, good report writing skills, and good visual acuity. They should also have a good working relationship with the captain and other members of the flight crew as well as the ground crew.

First officers don't generally have a regular work schedule. Their work depends on the flight schedules, and they may work in shifts.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a first officer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $39.08 an hour? That's $81,284 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 5% and produce 37,500 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a First Officer Do

There are certain skills that many first officers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed empathy, good judgment and leadership skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a first officer, we found that a lot of resumes listed 29.7% of first officers included faa, while 25.0% of resumes included cfr, and 23.2% of resumes included atp. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the first officer job title. But what industry to start with? Most first officers actually find jobs in the transportation and hospitality industries.

How To Become a First Officer

If you're interested in becoming a first officer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 62.2% of first officers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 6.7% of first officers have master's degrees. Even though most first officers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a first officer. When we researched the most common majors for a first officer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on first officer resumes include master's degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a first officer. In fact, many first officer jobs require experience in a role such as flight instructor. Meanwhile, many first officers also have previous career experience in roles such as captain or pilot.

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Average Salary
$81,284
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
6,772
Job Openings

First Officer Career Paths

Top Careers Before First Officer

Captain
23.4 %
Pilot
15.2 %

Top Careers After First Officer

Captain
48.4 %
Pilot
15.5 %

First Officer Jobs You Might Like

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a First Officer

First Officers in America make an average salary of $81,284 per year or $39 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $104,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $63,000 per year.
Average Salary
$81,284
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Cleveland, OH
Salary Range59k - 103k$78k$78,181
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range56k - 102k$77k$76,535
Buffalo, NY
Salary Range57k - 101k$76k$76,438
Salisbury, MD
Salary Range59k - 98k$76k$76,237
Corpus Christi, TX
Salary Range58k - 96k$75k$74,901
Newark, NJ
Salary Range57k - 97k$74k$74,418
$44k
$103k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
First Officer
First Officer
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
03/14/2021
03/14/2021
$79,86903/14/2021
$79,869
First Officer
First Officer
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
03/14/2021
03/14/2021
$79,86903/14/2021
$79,869
First Officer
First Officer
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
03/14/2021
03/14/2021
$79,86903/14/2021
$79,869
First Officer Pilot
First Officer Pilot
Champlain Enterprises LLC
Champlain Enterprises LLC
03/08/2021
03/08/2021
$84,64903/08/2021
$84,649
Pilot, First Officer CRJ
Pilot, First Officer CRJ
Skywest Airlines
Skywest Airlines
03/03/2021
03/03/2021
$121,21303/03/2021
$121,213
See More Recent Salaries

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First Officer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a First Officer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a First Officer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless First Officer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

First Officer Demographics

Gender

male

82.4 %

female

12.6 %

unknown

5.0 %

Ethnicity

White

64.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

16.8 %

Black or African American

10.9 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.0 %

French

10.3 %

Carrier

7.7 %
See More Demographics

First Officer Education

Majors

Aviation
45.1 %
Business
14.0 %

Degrees

Bachelors

62.2 %

Certificate

13.8 %

Associate

12.1 %

Top Colleges for First Officers

1. SUNY Farmingdale

Farmingdale, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,306
Enrollment
9,394

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

3. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

4. Baylor University

Waco, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$45,542
Enrollment
14,159

5. University of Minnesota - Crookston

Crookston, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$11,822
Enrollment
1,834

6. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

7. Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green, OH • Public

In-State Tuition
$11,105
Enrollment
13,729

8. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

9. Siena Heights University

Adrian, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$27,124
Enrollment
2,035

10. Arizona State University at the Polytechnic Campus

Mesa, AZ • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,840
Enrollment
4,495
See More Education Info

Online Courses For First Officer That You May Like

Part 1 FAA Private Pilot Ground School (Part 61)
udemy
4.7
(537)

Introduction to flight training, Aircraft Structure, Systems and Flight Instruments...

Operations Management
edX (Global)

Have you ever wondered about the right methods to improve productivity, configure your supply chain or address the demand on hand? In recent years, businesses have strived to improve productivity and quality, reduce costs and delivery times, and embrace flexibility and innovation. These strategies are part of the Operations Management (OM) activities that service and manufacturing organizations engage in. Operations Management helps you to understand the role of OM in a firm and to develop...

Space Mission Design and Operations
edX (Global)

Space exploration is a very exciting subject. Consider the achievements of Sputnik 1, Yuri Gagarin's first flight in space, the Apollo missions to the Moon, followed by the Shuttle program, the Hubble Space Telescope launch and maintenance on orbit, and finally the assembly and exploitation of the International Space Station. These were challenging undertakings involving space agencies and industrial teams of several nations, and private companies as well. Space telescopes are in service, and...

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Top Skills For a First Officer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 29.7% of first officers listed faa on their resume, but soft skills such as empathy and good judgment are important as well.

Best States For a First Officer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a first officer. The best states for people in this position are New York, Hawaii, Maine, and West Virginia. First officers make the most in New York with an average salary of $82,831. Whereas in Hawaii and Maine, they would average $82,701 and $81,008, respectively. While first officers would only make an average of $77,410 in West Virginia, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total First Officer Jobs:
144
Highest 10% Earn:
$131,000
Location Quotient:
1.26
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Mississippi

Total First Officer Jobs:
269
Highest 10% Earn:
$117,000
Location Quotient:
1.47
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Rhode Island

Total First Officer Jobs:
149
Highest 10% Earn:
$122,000
Location Quotient:
1.42
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top First Officer Employers

1. CommutAir
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$78,013
First Officers Hired: 
70+
2. ExpressJet Airlines
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$77,631
First Officers Hired: 
69+
3. Mesa Airlines
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$78,918
First Officers Hired: 
67+
4. SkyWest Airlines
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$77,196
First Officers Hired: 
47+
5. Silver Airways
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$77,626
First Officers Hired: 
42+
6. Piedmont Airlines
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$78,275
First Officers Hired: 
38+

First Officer Videos

Updated October 2, 2020