How Do You Become A Professional Helicopter Pilot?

Before you can earn your wings, there are a number of different milestones that you’ll need to successfully complete, and the process can be quite lengthy.

If you have plans on becoming a commercial helicopter pilot one day, you’ll first need to pass a variety of different exams (including a medical exam) before being able to obtain your private pilot license. 

How do you become a professional helicopter pilot

After you have acquired your private pilot license, you will then need to begin the process of selecting a flight school and enrolling in a helicopter flight course.

When selecting a school, it’s paramount that you do your research if and ensure that you are enrolling on a course that is FAA approved, as all professional pilots must meet FAA requirements.

Then, once enrolled, you will begin both ground and flight training to gain your commercial pilot license, which will consist of duties such as:

  • Racking up flight hours (usually around 200 hours)
  • Learning about the components of a helicopter 
  • Being taught how to gain clearance from air traffic control
  • Building your confidence flying the helicopter by yourself
  • Learning how to fuel and re-fuel a helicopter
  • Gaining an accurate understanding of safety checks

After you have successfully completed your program, you will then need to begin working at entry-level pilot jobs as, while 200 hours of flight training will be enough to gain your commercial pilot license, you will need to rack the hours up to around 1000 or more to be considered for the majority of professional pilot jobs.

As an example, one of the most common jobs that fresh graduates often choose to go into to build their hours is as a flight instructor, which means that you will be able to make a living while building up your flight hours. 

How hard is helicopter flight school?

As we’re sure you’re already aware, undertaking the journey to becoming a commercial pilot is one that is going to be both challenging and lengthy.

Before you enroll in a pilot training program, we first recommend that you make sure to research the reputability of your chosen flight school, as selecting the wrong one can be a costly mistake to make. 

How do you become a professional helicopter pilot

This is because, if you wish to become a professional pilot, you will need to first make sure that the flight school you are applying for is FFA-approved, as all professional pilots need to meet FAA requirements, especially those that want to fly commercial. 

During helicopter flight school, you will learn everything that you need to know about becoming a pilot, including both ground and flight training.

The number of hours spent in the air during your pilot training school will depend on the school you are attending, however, the average amount of flight training is usually around 200 hours.

During your training, you can expect to learn a range of different duties, including:

  • Traffic control
  • Carrying out safety checks
  • How to gain clearance from air traffic control
  • How to calculate fuel needs and maximum weight loads
  • How to check the helicopter’s equipment
  • How to operate the helicopter’s instruments
  • How to file flight plans with authorities

Is it easy to get a job as a helicopter pilot?

The process that is required to successfully become a pilot is one that requires passion, dedication, and lots of time spent practicing, training, and racking up flight hours.

With that being said,  though flying helicopters certainly won’t be a profession suited to everyone, it’s a career path that brings plenty of fun, challenge, and reward, with every new day presenting a new opportunity to embark on an adventure.

Therefore, if you have the determination to succeed and the tenacity to complete your flight hours, gain experience, and successfully pass your exams, then there’s no reason why you won’t be able to become a helicopter pilot over the course of a few years.

In addition to that, you’ll also need to take into consideration the flight school that you plan on training at.

All FAA-approved flight schools have to meet all of the requirements regarding personnel, curricula, facilities, and equipment, with the FAA making it clear that those undertaking non-FAA approved programs will find it nearly impossible to become a professional pilot, as it is a requirement to have been trained to meet FAA standards.

You’ll also need to take into consideration the cost of becoming a commercial pilot, which is estimated to be anywhere between $40,000 to $45,000 needed to successfully gain your commercial pilot license. 

How long does it take to become a helicopter pilot?

The length needed to become a helicopter pilot will depend greatly on what type of helicopter pilot you plan on becoming.

If you want to fly your own personal helicopter or work as a pilot that works for a private company, then you will only need to undertake training for around 2 years.

At which point, you will have achieved enough flight hours to begin work using your private pilot license.

In contrast, if you plan on becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, then the process needed to become one is a little different.

After you have gained your private pilot license, you will then need to attend an FAA-approved school that will allow you to gain your commercial pilot license at the standard required to gain a job working professionally.

After you have racked up around 200 hours of flight time during your program, you will then need to spend a year or two working at entry-level jobs to raise your flight hours to around 1000, at which point you can then begin working as a commercial pilot. 

How long is helicopter pilot school?

Though every flight school will be different, the standard time you can expect to spend at your university flight school is around two years in total to gain all of your certifications.

If you attend a university flight school, then you will gain a degree, although it is not a requirement that you have a degree to become a private or commercial pilot.