Southwest Airlines Pilot Careers & Salary: A Comprehensive Guide

Southwest Airlines Hiring Requirements
  • Understanding Southwest Airlines Careers: Southwest, a carrier based in Dallas, TX, offers pilot careers with industry-leading benefits. When considering a position with Southwest, understanding their hiring criteria, salary scales, and additional perks is key.
  • Hiring Requirements & Pay: Both the captain and first officer positions at Southwest Airlines have wages determined by skills, experience, and the number of flight hours logged. As an applicant, it’s beneficial to compare the entry-level pilot salary with the industry average to grasp the full potential of a Southwest career.
  • Benefits Beyond Salary: Many ask, “How much do Southwest pilots earn?” While the salary is highly competitive, Southwest also offers a wealth of other benefits. From flexible schedules to paid time off, the advantages extend well beyond mere compensation.
  • Preparing for Your Application: Beyond just salary inquiries, researching all facets of the job, from requirements to additional perks, is crucial. Consider attending Southwest fairs or career expos for deeper insights. Before your interview, a review of the Southwest Airlines company website can provide valuable context.

SouthWest Airlines Hiring Requirements Overview

Type of airline: U.S. Passenger

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas


  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Chicago-Midway
  • Dallas-Love Field
  • Denver
  • Houston-Hobby
  • Las Vegas
  • Oakland
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix-Sky Harbor

Focus cities:

  • Austin
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Los Angeles
  • Nashville
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • St. Louis
  • Tampa

Service to 100 destinations.

Origin: The company was founded in 1967 and began operations in 1971.


  • Live the Southwest Way: Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, Fun LUVing Attitude
  • Work the Southwest Way: Safety and Reliability, Friendly Customer Service, Low Costs
Hiring requirements pilot career

What are the hiring requirements for Southwest Airlines careers?


General Requirements:

  • Certificates/Ratings: U.S. FAA Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. Unrestricted U.S. ATP
  • Age: Must be at least 23 years of age.
  • Flight Experience: 2,500 hours total or 1,500 hours Turbine total.  Additionally, a minimum of 1,000 hours in Turbine aircraft as the Pilot in Command* is preferred. Southwest considers only Pilot time in fixed-wing aircraft. This specifically excludes flight simulator, WSO, RIO, FE, NAV, EWO, etc. “Other Time” will not be considered.
  • Currency: Experience should include actively flying two of the last five years.
  • FCC Radiotelephone Operator Permit.
  • Medical: Must possess a current FAA Class 1 Medical Certificate. Must pass FAA mandated Drug Test.
  • Authorization to work in the United States: Must have established authorization to work in the United States.Must possess a valid United States Driver’s License and a valid passport or a Refugee Travel Document.
  • Education: graduation from accredited, four-year college preferred.
  • Letters of Recommendation: At least three letters from any individuals who can attest to the pilot’s flying skills, by having observed him/her over a sustained period of time.*PIC for this purpose is defined as Captain/Aircraft Commander of record, not simply the sole manipulator of the controls. For military personnel, Southwest Airlines will allow flight time logged as “Pilot in Command” (PIC) only if you are the Captain/Aircraft Commander, Evaluator, or Instructor Pilot. Primary time will only be considered PIC on a specific aircraft after an individual upgrades to Aircraft Commander n the appropriate aircraft. Time logged as “Other Time” will not be considered.Military Conversion: Military Pilots may convert flight time by adding .3 hours per sortie.

Physical Abilities:

  • Must be able to lift and move 40 lbs.

Skills, abilities, knowledge, work style:

  • Be able to comply with Company attendance standards as described in established guidelines.
  • Must be at least 23 years of age at the time of hire.
  • Ability to read, speak, write and understand the English language.
  • Be able to read documents, follow instructions, listen, comprehend and repeat detailed lengthy instructions, and understand and retain procedures, rules and regulations.
  • Must successfully complete initial and recurrent training programs, proficiency checks, and evaluation period.
  • Be aware of hazardous situations and be able to handle emergencies as needed.
  • Must be alert to moving equipment on the ramp and other aircraft in the air.
  • Able to work under tight time constraints to accomplish quick (15 to 20 minute) turns of aircraft.
  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills and be able to effectively communicate information verbally, face to face, over public address systems, via radio, and other communication equipment.
  • Be able to comply with company attendance standards and work rules, as described in labor agreements and/or established guidelines.
  • Ability to work well with others as part of a team, meet the public and work under stressful situations.
  • Ability to work rotating shifts, and or overtime and travel on a constant basis.
  • Must maintain a well-groomed appearance as per Company standards.


  • Applicants who have a B737 Type Rating must not have limitations other than “B-737 CIRC.APCH.-VMC ONLY” documented on their certificate.
How much are pilot salaries?

So, exactly how much can I earn as a Southwest pilot?

Here is a sampling of Southwest pilot hourly wages. Pilot pay changes based on various factors, such as type of plane, years of experience, etc. For instance, this is for the Boeing 747.

First OfficerCaptain
Starting: $84/hrStarting: $241/hr
Average: $171/hrAverage: $256/hr
Top: $191/hrTop: $274/hr

Homepage: Southwest Airlines

Contact Information
Phone: 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792)
Southwest Careers: Overview

We have tried to provide the most accurate information here regarding hiring requirements for commercial airlines, we encourage you to contact the airline you’re interested in working for directly to verify employment requirements. Learn how much you can earn as a pilot, and learn exactly how to become a pilot. We wish you great success as an airline pilot and hope you land your dream job! Before you fill out that job application, you will need flight training. If you are interested in pursuing a flying career with Southwest Airlines and are interested in receiving your training at our flight school in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, please contact us today!

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