How Much Do Helicopter Pilots Get Paid?

How much can you expect to make as a helicopter pilot? This is an important factor to consider before deciding to undertake the journey of becoming a pilot.

If you decide to become a helicopter pilot, you will have to pass a variety of exams in order to obtain your private pilot license. At which point, you will then be able to start training and learning how to fly, in which you will need to rack up a certain amount of flight time hours before you’re ready to start flying as a helicopter pilot professionally. 

Though it’s a long process to become a helicopter pilot, the benefits of choosing this career are tenfold, with many pilots in the USA enjoying an average salary of anywhere from around $60,000 to $250,000 a year.

As a general rule of thumb, newer pilots will start off on the lower spectrum of the salary range and will be able to enjoy salary raises as their experience grows as helicopter pilots.

As a side note, it’s worth keeping in mind that if you choose to undertake a career in helicopter piloting, you will most likely find yourself starting off as a flight school instructor in order to build up your flight hours, where you will be on a slightly lower salary upwards of $60,000. 

To meet the requirements of being a helicopter pilot, you’ll need to track up around 10,000 hours of flight time, and working as an instructor is the easiest way to do so. 

How much do commercial helicopter pilots make?

A career spent as a commercial pilot is both a rewarding and challenging one and consists of flying people (and occasionally cargo) to various places over both land and sea. For this reason, the work-life of a commercial pilot is often versatile and different, with no two days being the same.

One day you might be taking a group of people on a sightseeing trip, and the next you could be taking workers to their job on an offshore oil rig! This means that the salary of a commercial helicopter can vary depending on the nature of their particular job.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a commercial helicopter pilot might make more money working for a first-class, luxury airline as opposed to a commercial pilot that flies goods back and forth from worksites.

For this reason, a commercial helicopter pilot can expect to make anywhere from $50,000 upwards of $200,000, all depending on their experience and personal circumstances. 

How much do oil rig helicopter pilots make?

The great thing about choosing to embark on a career in piloting is that you can work in a great number of different industries, including the oil business.

Usually, oil rig helicopter pilots will be responsible for transporting the workers to and from the oil rig, which are often situated offshore, over the ocean. Being able to safely transport workers to offshore rigs and landing there is a specialized skill for helicopter pilots, which is why they often tend to benefit from generous salaries!  

On top of that, just like other types of helicopter pilots, oil rig pilots are responsible for carrying out safety checks before and after each flight, being familiar with all of the emergency procedures, as well as knowing their aircraft inside and out.

Plus, as many oil rigs are situated in the middle of the ocean, where extreme weather conditions are common, oil rig pilots also need to be confident on how to handle difficult flight situations.

Due to all these reasons combined, an oil rig pilot can make an average of anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000 annually.

How much do police pilots make?

The life of a police helicopter pilot is a little different from that of a commercial or oil rig pilot. In the US, there are two primary classifications of a police aviation officer.

Some aviation officers choose to work in the force as a pilot who fixes and repairs damaged airplanes, while other police aviation officers choose to actually become a pilot.

The life of a police aviation pilot is varied and often fast-paced, with many responsibilities consisting of deploying personnel quickly and efficiently in emergency situations, helping to assist in traffic control, assisting in the chase of fugitive pursuits, as well as helping to locate missing persons during search and rescue operations. 

Just like with other types of helicopter pilot roles, the salary of a police aviation officer will very much depend on your individual experience, education, and seniority within the police force.

However, the average figure for a police aviation officer in America can be anywhere from $23,000 to $60,000, depending on what state you’re in, and your experience as a pilot. 

How much do private helicopter pilots make?

Private helicopter pilots are very similar to commercial pilots. So much so, that many private helicopter pilots actually start off as private pilots before branching out to commercial piloting after building their experience.

Private pilots, which are sometimes called charter pilots, specialize in flying aircraft for individual customers, private excursions, or even for small groups of people. The service is usually very expensive, so it should come as no surprise that private helicopter pilots often transport celebrities, entrepreneurs, and even professional sports teams, all around the globe.  

In addition to this, the duties of a private pilot often go above and beyond that of a commercial pilot. This is because of the VIP service that comes along with private flying.

Alongside having to ensure the safety of their passengers, know the aircraft from top to bottom, and stay well-informed about safety procedures, a private pilot is also responsible for obtaining flight schedules, picking up passengers from the airport, catering needs, fuel, booking hotels for the passengers and contacting air control for landing/flight assistance.

For these reasons, the average salary of a private pilot is usually pretty high, with the average figure being around $80,000.  

How much does a tour pilot make?

If you’ve ever wanted to become a tour pilot, you might be interested in how much they make. As a tour pilot, you’ll essentially be taking groups of people (usually tourists) on a sightseeing tour of a certain area.

For most tours, you’ll often follow a set path that has already been predetermined by the tour company you work for, meaning that the tour will begin and end at the same airport.

On some tours, you may even be able to drop certain passengers off at select locations so that they can explore and take pictures, and then return to pick them up after a few hours. 

Working as a tour pilot, you will need to own a commercial pilot license (a private pilot license is not applicable to this particular role) and your salaries will begin at an average of around $55,000 a year, rising all the way to around $100,00 a year for the top earners. 

How much money does a Life Flight pilot make?

If you weren’t already aware, Life Flight Network is an aircraft organization that is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality medical transport and aviation services available to people who live in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

This means that, if you choose to undertake a career working as a pilot for Life Flight, you will find your duties split between transporting medical goods to and from certain hospitals and locations, as well as acting as an air ambulance.

Therefore, you’ll be responsible for the safe transport of those who have suffered an accident, and need to be airlifted to a hospital.

For this reason, Life Flight Network requires highly skilled pilots that have obtained a commercial pilot’s license so, on average, a Life Flight pilot can expect to make an average of around $71,000 a year, although top earners can earn a lot more than that.