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What jobs can I get as a helicopter pilot?

You have done your research and you are interested in becoming a helicopter pilot, but now you are wondering just what kind of jobs you will be able to get as a helicopter pilot?

The aviation industry is very diverse and helicopter pilots are in high demand, also see our post Why there's a helicopter pilot shortage so you will be able to pick a job that suits you and your skills.

When you choose to become a helicopter pilot, you are opening your future up for so many possibilities. Once you have chosen a job, you can always change your mind or move to another job. If you start working in an industry and decide you want to do something else, you can switch over with very little hassle.

As a pilot, you'll be trained in all sorts of situations and these skills will transfer well to any field. Some jobs may require a little bit of specific training or skills but even those shouldn't take too much effort to obtain.

Here are just a few examples.


Once you graduate from flight school and you have all your required certifications, you will have around 200 hours. As a new helicopter pilot, you will have to build up your flight hours. In order to get better, high paying jobs you will need to have at least a thousand flight hours. An option for building your flight hours and to gain more experience is to become a flight instructor. Many flight schools like to hire their students back as instructors, so as long as you're a good student and have demonstrated your responsibility throughout your training, you'll have a good chance of being hired as an instructor as soon as you graduate.

Looking to the future

Once you've built up your hours, you'll be qualified to work in dozens of different industries throughout the world. Helicopters are used in all sorts of capacities, and you may be able to find a job that blends another of your interests with flying.

For example, if you love movies, you could get a job in the filmmaking industry. A lot of those amazing Hollywood shots are taken from a helicopter, and you could be the one flying it. If Hollywood is your passion, you could even become a stunt pilot. If you love photography or films, you could work with an aerial photographer or cinematographer. Look at Fred North, he is an amazing stunt pilot and loves his job in Hollywood.

You could fly helicopters for a news media station. When there's a big news story, helicopters are often used to capture footage and follow the story. If you love watching the news or learning about the world, this may be just the job for you.

You can become a pilot for the police or border patrol and work in the law enforcement industry.

If you enjoy a challenge and helping people, you can fly search and rescue missions.

You could fly helicopters for the fire department, using longline and external load training to help put out fires.

You can fly for a tour operator in places like Hawaii, Florida, New York, Caribbean, Fiji, New Zealand and other beautiful destinations. You will not only get to live in your dream destination but it will be your office as well.

You can be an emergency medical pilot or an air ambulance pilot and help others.

There are lots of jobs available in the agricultural industry as well. Pest control, crop spraying, managing livestock, logging and more.

You could also work in the utility field, which may include surveying gas, telephone, or power lines.

You can become a personal pilot for executives, corporations or celebrities.

You can work for an offshore oil rig, tuna boats, ferries, air cargo, corporate transportation and so much more.

Here's a run down of the jobs mentioned in this article:

Entertainment industry

  • Hollywood pilot

  • Stunt pilot

  • Aerial photographer

  • Aerial cinematographer

  • News pilot

  • Tour company pilot

Law enforcement

  • Search and rescue

  • Police pilot

  • Border patrol

  • Firefighter

  • FBI pilot

Medical field

  • Emergency medical pilot

  • Air ambulance

  • Air evacuation


  • Manage livestock

  • Pest control

  • Logging

  • Crop spraying


  • Surveying gas lines

  • Surveying power lines

  • Surveying phone lines

Corporate industry

  • Offshore oil rig

  • Tuna boat

  • Ferry

  • Air cargo

  • Corporate transportation


  • Private pilot

  • Flight school instructor

Each job listed above will have different requirements and flight hours needed to qualify. Some jobs require more experience than others, but as you work your way up you'll find that you're gaining the experience you need in the lower level jobs to qualify for the high paying jobs.

If you're looking to become a pilot, then have a look at a flight school in your area. We have a list available here.

Resources - SUU Aviation.

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