Have you always loved helicopters? Have you ever wondered what you could do with that passion? Well, wonder no more – these helicopter pilot jobs allow you to combine your helicopter pilot’s license with other passions for a great career future among the clouds.
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It can be a long road to obtaining your helicopter license, but once you have it, the world (and the skies) are your oyster. Even better, you can enjoy a wide range of different job opportunities that can tap into whatever other passions you may have.
For example, maybe you have a strong urge to dedicate your life to public service. A helicopter career with firefighting crews, police forces, the military, or the Coast Guard can help you put your skills to work in a career that truly matters.
On the other hand, maybe you have another strong passion such as film or nature. If that’s the case, fear not – there are plenty of jobs that allow you to put your piloting skills to work sharing that passion with others.
Above all, you need to make sure you select a helicopter job that suits your temperament, experience level, and training. Not all helicopter jobs are created equal, so take time to review them and see which one is the best fit for you.
Below are ten great career options for helicopter pilots for you to consider.
1. Sheriff’s Office Pilot
The long arm of the law extends into the skies these days, and few things are a greater reminder of that than police choppers. If you have a desire to serve and protect your community and have a helicopter’s license as well, this job may be for you.
It is fair to say that the state of policing is undergoing massive reforms around the world. That said, helicopter roles for conducting search and tracking missions by air are likely to remain in demand.
It is important to note that these roles require a high degree of specialized training. Law enforcement cannot (and should not) simply allow anyone to enter their ranks. You’ll thus need years of helicopter experience and be able to undergo extensive police training to succeed.
2. Firefighting Pilot
This is arguably the most important and in-demand role on this list. Wildfires have increased in size and frequency to a truly alarming degree, especially in hotter, dryer states such as California, which has seen record wildfires in the past few years. Aerial firefighting is more important now than ever before.
As a result, this may be the most morally rewarding of all the jobs on this list. You not only get to fly some of the most advanced civilian helicopters in the world, but you get to do so knowing that you truly are making an enormous difference for the better.
As with the police helicopter job, you’ll need to go through special training for this job. Firefighting helicopters have special features (such as tanks and releases to dump water and flame retardant on fires), which require extensive training to use.
3. TV News Crew Pilot
Maybe you’re more interested in following news wherever and whenever it happens. If so, you might be cut out for a life as a TV crew pilot, bringing people live footage of everything from car chases and traffic jams to fires, protests, parades, and more.
Pilots who work in these fields should definitely have a thirst for and interest in journalism, though whether any formal training in that regard is required will likely depend on the station. What is likely to be required, however, is a healthy amount of experience.
You’ll also need to be fine working irregular hours. Breaking news waits for no one, and when it breaks, you and your team need to be on the scene as soon as possible. On the plus side, the bonding experience between members of a news team can be truly special.
4. Test Pilot
Maybe you don’t have any singular social need you wish to fill with your piloting but simply love it for its own sake. Then again, maybe you’re someone who loves to stay up to date on all of the latest breakthroughs in aviation technology, especially for helicopters.
If that’s the case, working as a test pilot could be a dream come true. You’ll get to test out a wide range of new models, letting you “play with these toys” before anyone else. You may even be asked to give feedback to help with the design process.
Of course, you’ll have to decide for whom you’ll be testing out helicopters, and that can carry its own requirements. For example, if you hope to do this for a private company such as Lockheed or a branch of the military, you’ll need to meet their likely-demanding requirements.
5. Tour Pilot
Maybe you don’t want to have to deal with the stress that comes from working for a huge employer such as Lockheed or the Army, Navy, or Air Force. Flying as a tour guide instead can enable you to enjoy a more relaxing position in a fun and exciting atmosphere.
The great thing about this role is its variety. For example, there are countless nature tour jobs, each of which can allow you (and the guests you take with you) to observe some of the most beautiful biomes on Earth every day. Other tours view cities from the skies.
If you are going to apply for a tour guide pilot position, it’s probably a good idea to share the interest of the tour in question. For example, if you want to give tours of the Savannah or the Outback, you’d better really love and be knowledgeable about those areas.
6. Coast Guard Pilot
This job allows you to combine a desire to help others, a love of the open sea, and a passion for helicopter piloting all in one. The United States Coast Guard and its equivalents around the world need skilled helicopter pilots, and you could be one of them.
To be a Coast Guard pilot, you’ll need to be a flight school graduate. Flight degrees from a branch of the armed forces are required. In addition, a Bachelor’s Degree is necessary for those looking to become Commissioned Officers. You must also pass a security clearance.
As with other helicopter piloting jobs, working for the Coast Guard can be demanding. You will therefore need to pass a Class 1 Flight Physical as well as an eye exam and have proper depth perception.
7. Private Pilot
Maybe the three things you care most about besides helicopter work are money, money, and money. If that’s the case, the private sector really is the way to go. Those with the money to afford private helicopters will also have plenty to pay for an experienced pilot.
The nature of your work here will naturally depend on that of your employer. For example, if you are going to work for a businessperson or a celebrity, you’ll need to be able to keep up with what’s sure to be a fast-paced, potentially high-octane lifestyle.
As a result, you may have less time to spend with your family. Your boss and fellow crew members become a sort of second family. This position is thus also a great option for those looking for a sense of belonging to go with big money and an opulent lifestyle.
8. Flight Instructor Pilot
If you love to fly for the pure fun of it and wish others could share your joy, this may be for you. Flight instructor jobs are perfect for those who have the right balance of enthusiasm, experience, and patience.
That last word is especially key here. People who are new to any field are bound to be anxious and make mistakes, and that’s especially true of something as difficult and high-pressure as flying. However, anxiety and mistakes are the last thing anyone flying can have.
That said, domineering over someone or getting upset with them when they struggle is sure to only worsen their anxiety. Flight instructors, like all teachers, thus need to have an extraordinary amount of patience and empathy as well as a true love of teaching others.
9. Movie Business Pilot
Blockbusters such as the James Bond films and Terminator II feature some of the most famous helicopter chases in cinema, and stunt pilot work for helicopter pilots will always be in demand. If you love helicopter piloting and films with equal passion, here’s your chance to combine the two.
That said, there are countless more movie helicopter pilot jobs that are accomplished not with daring stunts but by allowing camera crews to get the aerial shots they need to complete a scene.
Everything has to be just perfect for a scene to come together just right. Helicopter pilots in the movie industry have the tricky job of needing to pay attention both to standard safety precautions as well as the specific needs of the cinematography crew.
10. Emergency Medic Pilot
In the world of emergency medicine, mere minutes or seconds can mean the difference between life and death. In the case of pilots for emergency medical teams and aerial ambulances, the ability to work under pressure and against the clock is essential.
This is another job where extra training and experience are likely to be required. You’ll likely be required to possess some basic medical first aid training. Given the importance of this job, you’ll likely need a fair amount of experience flying before you’re accepted.
Still, this is certainly a job well worth the extra time. Your time and expertise can help save lives. There are few aspects of any job that can rival the truly rewarding nature of medical helicopter work.