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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

Bristow Group

Bristow Group offers helicopter transportation, search and rescue (SAR), and aircraft support services to government and civil organizations around the world. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Bristow has large operations in the North Sea, Nigeria, and the Gulf of Mexico as well as many other major offshore oil and gas-producing locations.

Once you have achieved the program’s flight hour minimums, you are guaranteed an interview and given hiring preference based on your performance in the program.

To learn more about this partnership, contact

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.

Questions about your career?

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