Job Opportunities

After completing flight training, the first question on every helicopter pilot’s mind is “what helicopter jobs are out there?” The outlook is very promising, as the helicopter industry is rapidly expanding.

Your First Commercial Helicopter Job

The minimum hours needed for your Commercial license is 150 hours, but the chances of a low time pilot getting that all important commercial position are slim. The recognized amount of hours needed to get that first lucrative job is 1,000 hours.

There are two ways of gaining this amount of hours. The usual and more recognized way of doing this is to become a flight instructor. Not only do you build your hours up quickly but you also learn the in depth knowledge that is sometimes needed for the next step in the helicopter industry. At a busy flight school you will be able to build your hours up to 1,000 within a year and some commercial jobs are even calling for their future pilots to hold their Certified Flight Instructors (CFI) license.

The other way to build hours is to do a commercial job that will allow you to fly with only a small amount of hours. Examples of such jobs are photo flights, crop spraying, and flying for the tuna boats. However, these jobs are few and far between and may take you a lot longer to build your hours up to 1,000.

Which ever way you decide to build your hours up, once that target of 1,000 hours is reached, gaining a commercial position will not be a problem. Here at Ocean Helicopters we have even had instructors with just 500 hours offered commercial positions.

Average Salary of Helicopter Pilots

A lot of people ask us what the average salary is for a helicopter pilot. Every position is different and the type of flying you will be doing will determine what salary you will be paid. As a good estimate though, a starting salary for a commercial pilot with 1,000 hours or more is about $47,000. As you start to progress and gain experience, you will see this salary increase accordingly. It is not unusual to for helicopter pilots to earn from $60,000 to $100,000+.

For an up to date list of helicopter job openings, visit