Flying a helicopter is thrilling. You might be considering aviation as a career choice and wondering what the demand for helicopter pilots is like today.
Over its history, the aviation industry has met with challenges that have sometimes adversely impacted private and commercial pilots at all experience levels. But a long-predicted pilot shortage now means there has never been a better time to pursue a flying career.
Aspiring aviators entering the industry are finding themselves on a career fast track with their pick of flying opportunities. The pilot shortage extends to rotary aircraft jobs, and commercial helicopter pilots are in high demand.
If you are thinking about flight school or are looking for fulfilling career options with the potential for growth and good job security, the helicopter pilot career outlook is bright!
Helicopter Pilot Career Outlook
Today’s hot helicopter pilot market comes from a combination of things that are unique to the industry:
- The last generation of Vietnam-era helicopter pilots who have long flown for the civilian aviation industry is retiring.
- The commercial airline route is less costly to train for than rotary flying and typically pays more at the other end, making it an appealing choice to a lot of pilots.
- Training to become a helicopter pilot is demanding, expensive, and time-consuming. Required minimums are high, and building time is challenging.
So, what makes pursuing a career flying helicopters worthwhile?
Retiring helicopter pilots are stimulating job opportunities and helping to ensure hiring for the next couple of decades. A helicopter pilot’s lifestyle offers fun, excitement, and unique flying experiences unlike many fixed-wing jobs. And as a commercial helicopter pilot, you become part of a select group of skilled aviators who share a passion and proven dedication to the rotary-wing flying experience.
Helicopter pilot demand is high and student pilots entering the industry today can expect well-paying twenty-to-thirty-year careers.
What Does a Helicopter Career Look Like?
Beginning Your Career as a Helicopter Pilot
The first step for any pilot is flight school. You will fly 200 hours by the time you earn your private and commercial helicopter pilot ratings. However, most commercial helicopter pilot jobs require a minimum of 1000-1500 flight hours, which can seem overwhelming.
The current job market is making that easier. New pilots typically become flight instructors to bridge the hours gap and build time. Many flight schools need instructors to meet high demand and are actively recruiting; some student pilots have their first jobs as flight instructors lined up even before their training is complete.
Your Future as a Career Helicopter Pilot
Once you have accumulated 1,000 hours of flight time and earned the appropriate ratings, you’ll have your pick of the best commercial helicopter pilot jobs. Here’s a look at just a few:
- Tour Pilots: From coastline to city skyline, flying as a tour guide is all about variety. This is a terrific choice for a fun and ever-challenging helicopter pilot position that provides the opportunity to meet people and fly to destination locations.
- Corporate: The world of high-paying corporate flying jobs can range from piloting a privately-owned helicopter for an executive or celebrity to being responsible for a corporation’s rotary aircraft and flight schedule.
- Cargo: Professional helicopter cargo pilots transport shipments such as mail, supplies, or freight for companies. Cargo pilot flight schedules are typically fluid, and the flying can be demanding. But with continued reliance on mail-order and shipping, there is no sign of a sector slow-down.
- Entertainment: Helicopter pilots in the film industry fly high-speed chases and daring stunts and get the perfect aerial shot. It requires precision flying and the ability to adhere to safety precautions while meeting the demands of a day’s shoot schedule.
- News & Traffic: Fly for television stations as a TV crew pilot and bring people live footage of breaking news as it happens. This is a great fit for pilots interested in journalism, who enjoy flying with a team, and have the skills to handle the unexpected and fly in all weather conditions and settings.
- Law Enforcement: Helicopter pilots for police departments and other law enforcement agencies use specialized training and piloting skills to conduct search and rescue missions, provide disaster recovery and emergency response support, and perform aerial patrol or surveillance.
- Medical: Flying as an EMS helicopter pilot is both demanding and fulfilling. Emergency medic pilots work alongside medical professionals in life-saving situations and fly air ambulances under pressure and against the clock to help patients in need.
- Firefighting: This challenging work is becoming increasingly important as the rate and size of wildfires continue to grow in parts of the country. Firefighting pilots have special training and fly advanced rotary aircraft, and their skills and experience help save lives and make a difference.
Government, air taxi, crop dusting, powerline survey, aerial photography, and charter pilots are all in high demand, and the need is anticipated to continue. As a professional helicopter pilot, you will have unforgettable experiences flying in these scenarios.
And remember, your helicopter piloting skills are transferable. The opportunities for movement and growth in the rotary-wing aircraft industry are countless.
Train Precision Can Help You Take Off
Train Precision offers an exceptional helicopter pilot training program. We have helped student pilots earn their helicopter pilot license on their career paths as aviators for nearly forty years. Our helicopter pilot school offers first-class, customized training to meet your personal goals.
Whether you’re just starting out as a pilot or are ready to complete your helicopter pilot certification, our team of expert instructors and state-of-the-art training facilities in Newberg, Oregon and Klamath Falls, Oregon can provide what you need to become a career helicopter pilot.
Get your ratings and get paid to fly as a helicopter pilot. Start your aviation career and begin flight training today. Train Precision is here to help!