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How Long Does It Take to Get A Helicopter Pilot’s License?

Updated: May 23, 2023

Are you wondering how long it will take you to get your helicopter pilot's license?

Well, it all depends on which route you want to take, flight school or University.

If you want to become a helicopter pilot and pursue it as a career, then you will actually need 3 basic licenses.

1. PPL (private pilot's license)

2. CPL (commercial pilot's license),

3. Instrument license.

Once you have your 3 basic licenses you might want to get your CFI and CFII certifications (Certified Flight Instructor/Certified Flight Instructor Instrument) as well.

These will help you find a job as a Flight Instructor; which will help you earn some money and build your flight hours.

Before you can know how long it will take to get your licenses, you'll need to decide where you want to get your training. Also see our post on What you need to know before choosing a flight school.

Where you get trained will have a big impact on how long it will take to earn your helicopter pilot's licenses.

There are two paths to getting your pilot licenses:

  • Flight School

  • University Flight School

If you only want to get your private or commercial license, then you'll want to get them at a Flight School rather than at a University one. Getting just these licenses will likely only take a few months or even a few weeks to complete, depending on how rigorous the program is.

Non-university flight schools are often more intense than university programs because they are shorter.

If you decide to train at a University flight school, you will get your certifications and at the end you will also get a degree, which can help you stand out to future employers. You can expect to spend about two years total getting all of your certifications and degree.

We have done some research and below is a basic idea of what you will learn at a University Flight School and the time frame.

Private Pilot Certification

You'll earn your private pilot license during your first eight months. In this period, you'll get about 70 hours of flight time. If you're only getting your license in order to have your own helicopter (which is very uncommon because of how expensive it is), then this is the only certification you'll really need. If you plan to make money flying helicopters, then you'll want to get as many certifications as you can.

Commercial l/Instrument Certification

During your third semester, you'll start working on both your instrument and your commercial pilot licenses. Your commercial license will qualify you to fly helicopters as a career and prepare you for the industry. Having an instrument license prepares you to fly in all types of weather, especially rain and fog. Having this license makes you much more valuable to your future employers and will help you be a safer pilot. This semester, you'll also practice using NVG (Night Vision Goggles) and get 55 hours of flight time.

Commercial ll/Instrument

During your fourth semester, you'll earn your commercial and instrument licenses. You'll also practice maneuver skills and become qualified in turbine engine flying. You'll have an additional 70 hours of flight time.

Certified Flight Instructor/Certified Flight Instructor Instrument

You'll earn both your CFI and your CFII during your fifth semester, with a total of 23 flight hours. Once you've earned these certifications, you'll be qualified to teach others how to fly. Working as a flight instructor is a common and ideal first job for beginning pilots, so it's a good idea to have these certifications. If you decide to get a bachelor's degree and are able to work as a flight instructor, then you'll be able to continue your education while being paid.

In conclusion, when you follow the University route, it will take you 2 years to complete your course and you will graduate with a degree (Associate degree) and all your certifications/licenses and enough hours to start flying professionally. If you follow the flight school route, you will complete your course much faster, but you will not have a degree. You will have all the same certifications/licenses and hours. You might also have the option to do extras like longline, agricultural ratings, night ratings and more.

Whichever route you choose will depend on your personal preference. Good luck

Source - SUU Aviation

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