FLYING Magazine

Becoming a helicopter pilot can lead to a thrilling career filled with adventure. Helicopters can perform specialized tasks that fixed-wing aircraft cannot, leading to a world of opportunities for aspiring aviators. 

From search and rescue to aerial photography, the possibilities for helicopter pilots are endless. Here is how to land a job as a helicopter pilot.

How Do You Become One?

The licensing process is similar to that of fixed-wing pilots. Aspiring helicopter pilots need to be a minimum of 17 years old and be able to obtain an FAA medical certificate.

A private pilot certificate is the first step in the journey to a career as a helicopter pilot. The training for this license teaches you the basics of flying a rotary-wing aircraft and prepares you to fly helicopters recreationally.

To make money while flying, you will need a commercial pilot certificate. You can work as a helicopter pilot with this license, opening the door to jobs in industries such as flight tours, medical transport, and law enforcement.

The airline transport certificate is the top-level license and requires significant training. Although it is not required for many helicopter pilot jobs, having it can make you more competitive during your job search.

Where Do You Train?

While they are less prevalent than fixed-wing flight schools, there are many schools offering helicopter flight training across the country.

 After you have researched local training options, your chosen flight school will be able to help you learn more about the process and requirements for obtaining your certificates. Once you have completed the necessary training for each, you will need to pass written and oral tests to earn your license.

Is It Expensive?

The cost of becoming a helicopter pilot varies greatly depending on your situation, but a private pilot certificate typically costs between $10,000 and $20,000. Earning your commercial license can cost upward of $100,000.

What Types of Companies Can Employ You?

Once you have your commercial pilot license, you can begin applying for helicopter pilot jobs. There are many types of companies and organizations in need.

Medical airlift and evacuation companies commonly use helicopters to transport patients, and therefore have a significant demand for pilots. Similarly, search and rescue operators also require pilots to operate their helicopters.

Helicopters are often used for observing the world beneath them or capturing imagery of the ground. There are companies that employ helicopter pilots for aerial photography and videography, and news organizations hire them as well. If you want to fly passengers, corporate transport and tour companies hire helicopter pilots.  

Government bodies also have a need for commercial helicopter pilots. For example, the military employs pilots to work as instructors, and the U.S. Forest Service  for their firefighting operations. Law enforcement agencies  hire civilian pilots to fly their aircraft.

Do You Make Good Money?

The salary for helicopter pilots can vary depending on their experience and employer, but you can expect salaries to start at around $70,000 per year. With more experience, one can easily earn upward of $100,000 to $200,000 annually.

Is There a Demand?

There is a significant need for helicopter pilots across the United States. Many employers are actively seeking new pilots, and the demand is forecasted to grow over the coming years.

Helicopters perform specialized tasks that are vital to society. Despite the cost and effort required to gain the necessary licenses and experience, helicopter pilots are rewarded with exciting career prospects and competitive salaries.

The post How to Land a Helicopter Pilot Job appeared first on FLYING Magazine.

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