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The normal path for a fledgling airline pilot is to build his/her hours-traditionally as a CFI for pitifully low pay-and get a job with a regional carrier. That new first officer had an average starting pay in the mid-$20/hour range just a few years ago, before the hype of the pilot shortage. Second-year pay jumped nicely, sometimes as much as 50%, but then it stagnated at a few percent a year. A fifth-year first officer might have been making into $40-some/hour.