Helicopter pilots carry cargo or passengers for a variety of reasons. Some fly medical helicopters to transfer patients long distances, particularly in emergency situations. Other pilots fly helicopters to take aerial photography or to advertise. Helicopter pilots are frequently needed for sightseeing tours, geological surveys, and to transport supplies to offshore oil rigs. They even carry smoke jumpers into forest fires and rescue people from remote locations or flooded areas. The types of duties performed will depend on the industry, but all commercial helicopter pilots must examine the aircraft, systems, instruments, and controls before every flight to ensure everything meets quality inspection standards.
Helicopter Pilot Job Education Requirements
As with any aeronautics career, helicopter pilots must have specialized training. Some receive this training in the military prior to becoming commercial helicopter pilots, but most receive flight training at an FAA-approved flight school. They must pass and obtain an FAA Commercial Pilot Rotorcraft license before being hired by any employer. Pilots must complete 150 hours of flight time and pass both a written exam and flight test.
Helicopter Pilot Job Market
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that employment of commercial pilots will increase by 9 percent across the board through 2022. Remote states like Alaska and Montana, however, will see the highest rise in employment. Although the number of job openings should increase, this field is competitive, so those with extensive flight hours will have the advantage.
Helicopter Pilot Job Salary Information
The majority of commercial helicopter pilots earn between $52,520 and $100,480. The average annual wage for this career is $80,800. Starting out, however, beginner helicopter pilots earn an income closer to $32,000 a year. How much you can make largely depends on your industry of employment and how much flight experience you have under your belt.