Relief Copilot. Salary: $20,000 or less
You just completed your copilot requirements, and were lucky enough to pick up a relief pilot job with a fire crew out west. A year later, you've put out fewer fires than your niece did blowing out her birthday candles last June. Still, maybe this will get your foot in the door.
Air Tanker Tyro. Salary: $33,300
You managed to land a coveted full-time assignment with last year's fill-in employer. Who knew it was this hard to get someone to let you fly face-first into a four-thousand-degree fire?
Air Tanker Pilot. Salary: $48,270
You finally earned your captain's seat with one of the industry's top employers. After all the years and the studying and the tests and the simulations, you find it hard to believe that all you've earned is a seat one spot to the left in the cockpit.
Air Tanker Captain. Salary: $64,070
You've had your captain's card for two years. You've been flying as much as you can, racking up the hours and the dollars while quietly putting together a plan to purchase three tankers and start your own company. You feel sorta weird doing it, but you spend every night praying for more of the country to spontaneously ignite.
Captain of Captains. Salary $140,500
Twenty years in, and countless hours later, you're finally the one Alfred was referring to in The Dark Knight. Your company's steadily gaining market share, fielding nearly new tankers while your competitors struggle to maintain their old workhorse aircraft. You're adding two Air Tractor helicopters this year, and you're scoping out the Canadian market. The sky's the limit.