What job can a commercial helicopter pilot do?
Helicopter pilot careers appear to be pretty thrilling. Medical evacuation, fire fighting, law enforcement, mountain search and rescue, and border control are some of the high intensity, high reward careers available to trained commercial pilots. Aerial photography, advertising, sightseeing tours, geological survey, fish and game census, highway patrol, and carrying workers and supplies to and form offshore oil rigs are some other heli pilot careers.
What do helicopter pilots earn?
According to salary.com, median salary for a helicopter pilot is $86,627, with the top 10% earning $133,998
How to become a helicopter pilot
If you want to fly as a commercial pilot, versus a private pilot, you will need to enroll in an FAA certified flight school, earn a series of certifications and complete a certain number of flight hours – typically 210.
Helicopter training programs can be found everywhere. In mild, sunny climates like those in Nevada, Arizona and California, Pilot Training programs have proliferated. But even rainy and extreme weather prone areas like Washington and Texas have seen helicopter pilot training schools that are thriving. Programs tend to concentrate in or near larger population centers, so you may need to extend your search if you live in a small community. Some aspiring pilots will transplant for the duration of their training program to one of the sunnier locations in order to maximize their good weather flying time and complete their program faster.
Programs vary in length, but a full time student could complete the required curriculum and flight hours in a year and half to two years.
The cost of Flight School
Flying a helicopter for a living is not for everyone. It can be an exciting, adrenaline-inducing adventure, but it does require an investment. The training and flight school hours required to earn a commercial helicopter pilot license can run $75,000-$85,000.
For those with VA education benefits, the majority of tuition costs may be covered. For others, financial aid packages and scholarships are available. Flight schools with Department of Education accreditation, like Charter College Aviation, can offer qualified student pilots Title IV Financial Aid in the forms of Federal Student Loans and Pell Grants. These resources can significantly affect both the out-of-pocket cost to the student and provide options for long-term loans.