How a 33-year-old pilot earning $110,000 in Florida is paying off $32,000 in student loans while saving to buy a house

Hemant Saria didn’t grow up with dreams of flying planes. The 33-year-old pilot, who grew up in Nepal, only learned to fly so he could save enough to buy a motorcycle. “The fastest way to make that much money was to become a pilot,” he tells CNBC Make It.

Yet once he started learning, he fell in love with flying.
Twelve years later, Saria earns around $110,000 a year as a first officer flying Boeing 747 cargo freighter airplanes. He lives with his fiancee in Tampa, Fla., but his job takes him all over the world.
While he earns a comfortable salary, and expects to make even more in the future, money isn’t Saria’s only priority. “As a pilot, I would say I would prefer to have more time than money,” he explains. “As an individual, as a couple, there’s only so much money you need to have a comfortable life.”

For Saria, it’s all about “finding the good balance.”

Saria flies 15 to 16 consecutive days per month, then has two weeks off. He’s paid $110 per hour, plus more for overtime, so his monthly income fluctuates depending on how many hours he’s in the air. He’s guaranteed 64 hours per month but can clock over 100 during busy periods.

His guaranteed base salary is $85,000 a year, plus an additional $13,000 in overtime. He also receives between $10,000 and $12,000 to cover daily expenses while he’s flying.

Saria’s company offers plenty of opportunity for growth: He expects his base salary to increase 10% to 15% annually over the next five years, and once he becomes a captain his earnings will almost double. “You can expect to make at least $200,000 to $250,000 a year,” he says.

He’s been with his current company since June 2018 but started his career in Nepal, where he earned $500 per month flying in the mountains. “It’s one of the highest-paid jobs in Nepal,” he says.
05/09/19 Emmie Martin/CNBC TV18

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