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Helicopter Pilot Careers

Explore our professional helicopter pilot career paths.

Want to make a career of flying crucial search and rescue missions, emergency medical services, or aerial firefighting operations?  We’ll guide you on the path to becoming a helicopter pilot in any field you desire.

The highest-paying helicopter careers are emergency medical services (EMS), firefighting, offshore oil support, external load operations, and similar fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled jobs. They’re also the pilot careers that everyone else wants, which is why it’s so important to choose a reputable school with good career counseling and connections.

You won’t start out at the top, but you can get there with the training and guidance we’ll provide. Our Career Pathway Program with multiple industry-leading companies can also help you prepare for your future career.

Career Pathway Program

Our Pathway Program puts our students on career paths with some of the world’s leading helicopter operators.

ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH

With more than 50 rescue helicopters and 37 stations, the non-profit ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH is one of the largest air rescue organizations in Europe. It is becoming increasingly difficult for operators of air rescue stations in Germany to find suitable and sufficiently qualified pilots for the cockpit of a rescue helicopter. Over the next ten years, air rescue organizations in Germany predict a demand for at least 100-200 additional pilots.

Pathway students in our ADAC program complete our Joint EASA/FAA Professional Pilot Program. Once you have completed the program and reached the required number of flight hours in the USA, the costs for the DLR aptitude test will be borne by ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH. Following a recommendation for employment by the DLR Selection Committee, admission to the ADAC pilot pool takes place. Employment begins as soon as suitable positions are available in the company.

To learn more about this partnership, contact

Avincis Spain

Now European students have one more reason to train with us: the opportunity to start a career with Avincis Spain upon completion of their training. All students enrolled in our Avincis Spain Career Pathway Program are guaranteed a job interview upon meeting Avincis minimum requirements for a co-pilot position (assuming available co-pilot positions).  

With over 90 bases, Avincis Spain is a leader in helicopter operations in Spain. Avincis runs aerial emergency medical services (EMS), aerial search and rescue (SAR) and aerial firefighting operations across the country’s breathtaking terrain.  To learn more about the partnership, contact our representative Vicente Garcia at or + 34 667648234.

Bristow Norway Offshore Track

Bristow Norway and Hillsboro Heli Academy have established the Offshore Track Pathway in December 2021. Helicopter pilot students who complete the Offshore Track and meet the minimum hiring requirements by Bristow Norway, will have a pilot job interview guaranteed.

The Offshore Track combines EASA and FAA training syllabus and includes EASA CPL w/ EASA ATPL theory, and FAA PPL, IR, CPL, CFI and CFII. Most students will take between 12-15 months and end up with about 200 Flight hours.

The students are able to apply for the F-1 visa, which enables them to stay in the USA and work as helicopter pilots for up to 23.5 months upon completion of their training. Most students will typically work as helicopter flight instructors during this period either at Hillsboro Heli Academy or at any other helicopter school in the US. Students could also work as commercial helicopter pilots in other operations (e.g., tour flights) during these months.

Students, who take advantage of their maximum time on F-1 visa, may return home with perhaps as many as 1,500 flight hours. The minimum requirement at Bristow Norway is 800 helicopter flight hours.

In order to enter the Offshore Track, the students must be proficient in one of the three Scandinavian languages (Norwegian, Swedish or Danish). Prior to acceptance, the students will also need to pass an aptitude test.

For detailed information about the Offshore Track Pathway, please contact Hillsboro Heli Academy’s Norwegian representative Tom Seglénd at + 47 – 47 30 28 25 or

The Four Steps to a Helicopter Pilot Career

Every pilot starts by getting their professional pilot certificates and ratings from a flight training school. When you finish your program for the professional pilot program, you’ll end up somewhere over 200 hours of flight time.

But, to get hired for entry-level careers, you need 1,000 to 1,500 hours of flight time — it’s an insurance requirement at most companies.

So how do you even get your first job as a helicopter pilot? Read on.

The first job helicopter pilots get is typically as a flight instructor at a training school. This allows you to get paid for instructing while building your flight experience. Flight instructing is a very rewarding and challenging opportunity to develop airmanship skills, aeronautical knowledge, and experience.

Over 95% of flight schools train their students on the Robinson R22 helicopter. You must have at least 200 hours in helicopter and 50 hours in an R22 to instruct in this helicopter, due to the SFAR 73 regulation, and get hired at any of these schools using the R22 for training. That’s part of why we train on the Robinson R22 at Hillsboro Aero Academy and it sets you up for the next step in your career.

We do hire qualified graduates as flight instructors, and you’ll have a chance to start your helicopter pilot career at Hillsboro after you complete your professional pilot training.

After you build 1000 hours or more of flight experience, the next career opportunity is flying for a tour operator either in the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Alaska or some other scenic tourist destination. This career gives pilots a chance to continue to improve their skills while flying a consistent, pre-determined route with few variables. It’s usually where most pilots have their first experience flying a turbine aircraft. Helicopter tourism is a great opportunity to gain another 1000-1500 hours of turbine helicopter experience.

Once you have acquired enough hours in a tour operation most pilots move on to other industries such as charter, corporate transport, offshore support, electronic news gathering (ENG), helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), and utility operations. These types of helicopter pilot jobs require more advanced training with sufficient experience to adapt to changing conditions and respond quickly in challenging environments.

While charter, offshore, and utility operations are great career paths, as you continue to build hours and experience you can progress to careers such as aerial firefighting, law enforcement, and heavy-lift operations. These industries are often viewed as the pinnacle and are desired by many pilots. They require the most experience because of the challenging environments in which they operate. There is unpredictability in each of these careers and a pilot must possess the correct skill and experience to adequately manage and make the best decisions in those situations.

This progression through the industry is important in becoming a helicopter pilot because it puts you on a path toward achieving your dream career. This comprehensive training gives you the skills necessary to be successful when you reach that goal.

As one of the longest-standing and best-known helicopter schools in the world, we’re able to connect our alumni to a vast network spanning 55 countries. By joining our school, you’ll be connected to major helicopter employers around the world, including those in our Career Pathways program.


A helicopter pilot’s salary varies depending on the type of work they are doing, the operator they are flying for, and how much experience they have. According to, the average hourly rate for a helicopter pilot is $50 per hour.

The variety of jobs for a skilled helicopter pilots is huge. You can do all different types of operations from flying tours in Las Vegas for groups of tourists to performing aerial survey work for the government to flying on a contract to suppress wildfires. Helicopters provide vital support for many operations and having a skilled pilot is crucial on these missions.

Becoming a helicopter pilot requires a commitment of time of money to obtain the required ratings to work as a commercial pilot, However, the rewards can be huge for those who love aviation and are looking for a career with a lot of adventure and job diversity. You can do everything from fly tours in the Grand Canyon to fight wildfires from the air. If you have a dream of becoming a pilot and are willing for adapt to new adventures, then becoming a helicopter pilot might be the right path for you.

The highest paying jobs for helicopter pilots are usually those that require the most experience and skill and can take place in situations that require a pilot to use their knowledge to adapt to such as aerial firefighting or emergency medical services.

Absolutely, you can make a highly successful career as a helicopter pilot. There are many opportunities in tourism, law enforcement, emergency and disaster response, medical services, aerial firefighting, and corporate transport. You can gain additional certifications to enhance your salary package.

Typically, helicopter pilots are expected to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate and a Commercial Pilot Certificate. Many employers are also requiring an Instrument Rating. A Certified Flight Instructor Rating is recommended as it is the best way to build flight hours required for future employment. Professional training from a reputed institution can give you enough qualifications to be a successful helicopter pilot.

The salary range for a helicopter pilot can vary based on multiple factors such as experience, employer, and location. While entry-level pay is decent, after gaining experience, you can expect a very high salary package if you have obtained additional training or qualifications.

Questions about your career?

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