Commercial Helicopter Pilot: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a commercial helicopter pilot. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

View Popular Schools »

Essential Information

Commercial helicopter pilots are employed in a variety of industries. They may be hired to transport passengers between destinations, conduct aerial tours of cities, landmarks and other features, transport cargo and provide electronic coverage for a news station. These professionals can receive necessary training through flight training school or the military. They must also attain licensure and certification.

Required Education Completion of flight training school or relevant military training
Other Requirements Certification for helicopter operation and medical certificate required, along with commercial pilot's license, instrument rating, plus good vision and hearing
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*9% for commercial pilots
Mean Salary (2013)* $80,800 for commercial pilots

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

A commercial helicopter pilot usually transports passengers or cargo between destinations or is assigned to complete specific tasks such as aerial surveys or tours. These pilots may work in industries such as health care services, agriculture or tourism.

Commercial helicopter pilots must have a commercial pilot's license, an instrument rating, a medical certificate and a certification to operate a helicopter. These type of aircraft pilots may be trained by the military or through a flight training school. They must meet strict physical requirements, including 20/20 vision and good hearing.

Helicopter pilots face possible professional risks depending on what type of work is performed. For example, pilots of crop-dusting helicopters may be exposed to toxic chemicals. Also, they may risk hearing loss from the constant sound of the helicopter engines. Helicopter pilots may also need to work in an exposed cockpit in all types of weather.

Duties

Commercial helicopter pilots ensure the safety of their aircraft, passengers and cargo through pre-flight checks and strict adherence to flight safety policies and procedures. They are in constant communication with weather forecasters, dispatchers and tower control personnel. A commercial helicopter pilot plots a course and communicates take-off, landing and other aircraft procedures. They need to remain highly alert and be able to make precise adjustments to controls. Helicopter pilots must also possess good spatial orientation.

Helicopters generally make shorter trips at a lower altitude than airplanes. A commercial helicopter pilot must be aware of trees, power lines and other low-lying obstacles. He or she must monitor devices that detect sudden shifts in the wind and other dangers that could cause a malfunction or crash. Exact duties vary by job, but a commercial helicopter pilot may be responsible for dusting crops, transporting passengers, taking photos or collecting traffic information, among other things.

Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted the overall employment of commercial pilots to increase by 9% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). States with the highest concentration of commercial pilot jobs include Alaska and Montana. College graduates and former military pilots with extensive flight hours have the best job opportunities in this competitive job field. According to BLS, the middle 50% of commercial pilots earned between $52,520 and $100,480 in May 2013, with a mean annual wage of $80,800.

Show me popular schools

Related to Commercial Helicopter Pilot: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Salary and Career Information for a Helicopter Pilot

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a helicopter pilot. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as...

Helicopter Pilot: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Helicopter pilots require significant formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure requirements to see...

Become a Licensed Commercial Pilot: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Commercial pilots fly aircraft that carries passengers and cargo. They may also work in other industries and have duties like...

Become a Test Pilot: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a test pilot. Research education and training requirements for starting a career in testing aircraft, and...

Helicopter Mechanic: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Baylor University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Utah (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Utah State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Aeronautics, Aviation, and Aerospace Science
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Kansas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Kansas State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • North Dakota (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of North Dakota include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Aeronautics, Aviation, and Aerospace Science
        • Air Traffic Control
        • Aviation Management and Operations
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
        • Flight Instructor
  • School locations:
    • Louisiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Louisiana Tech University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Aviation Management and Operations
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Kentucky (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Eastern Kentucky University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Colorado (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Metropolitan State College of Denver include:
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Aviation Management and Operations
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Louisiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Louisiana include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Aeronautics, Aviation, and Aerospace Science
        • Aviation Management and Operations
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southern Illinois University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Air Transportation and Distribution
        • Aviation Management and Operations
        • Commercial Pilot and Flight Crew

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics