The next time you're flying in an airplane consider this: The person operating the aircraft might not be making much more than the person who made the Egg McMuffin you ate for breakfast.
That's right. According to the Wall Street Journal, new airline pilots rank among the lowest-paid workers in the country, with some regional pilots earning as little as $15,000 per year.
That's horrifying for a number of obvious reasons. For one, $15,000 -- or even $22,400 a year, the starting salary for pilots at 14 regional airlines -- is lower than the federal poverty line for a family of four in the U.S.
It's also startling because of the extraordinary price of becoming a pilot in the first place. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, airline pilots usually need a bachelor's degree, a pilot's license, and certification that requires hundreds of hours of flight training. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the cost of training flights alone can set you back more than $100,000.
No wonder there's a shortage of pilots.
Finances aside, earning poverty wages can be detrimental to your health. For instance:
- Poverty may lead lead to chronic stress, which can cause memory loss
- People living below the poverty line are more at risk of sleep disorders, like insomnia and sleep apnea
- People in poverty are more at risk of developing an addiction or substance abuse problem
- Lifelong poverty increases the risk of heart disease
Consider this the next time you're flying on a small regional airline.