When choosing a career as a helicopter pilot, one of the most important factors to consider is the salary. After all, no one wants to invest time and money into obtaining their pilot’s license if they won’t earn a living. If you have been asking yourself, “How much does a helicopter pilot make?” then continue reading.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for commercial pilots, including helicopter pilots, is $82,240 as of May 2020. However, this figure can vary widely depending on factors such as experience level, type of employer or industry worked in, and geographic location.
For instance, helicopter pilots working in Alaska are among the highest paid in the country. Alaska has both the highest concentration of jobs and top-paying employment levels in this occupation. As per BLS data reported in 2019 for nonmetropolitan areas around Anchorage/Mat-Su and Southeast Alaska nonmetropolitan site shows, Helicopter Pilots were making an average hourly rate between $68-77, which takes their yearly salary somewhere around $141K-$160K.
On the other hand, new hires at regional airlines or low-budget carriers usually start with salaries ranging from $20k–$30k annually for entry-level positions. At the same time, experienced pilots can earn between $40-80k per year working Part 135 operations.
Additionally, larger organizations like oil and gas companies operating offshore rigs typically pay better overall compensation packages. Due to inherent hazards involved with flying helicopters over water where high winds and continuous waves are common sightings & being trained specialists will be required accordingly. A similar is found with HEMS – Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, wherein flying would include complex maneuvers, especially when transporting critical patients/casualties with limited visibility prevalent during the night/ adverse weather conditions, which requires adeptness leading to enhanced pay scales.
It is also good to consider what type of helicopter pilot you aspire to be, as salaries can vary widely depending on the role. For instance, being a flight instructor may not pay as well as working in a specific industry such as law enforcement or tourism.
Moreover, you choose to fly commercially for airlines and follow their federated rules & regulations. In that case, your compensation package will include various benefits like insurance policies, paid time off, flight reimbursement, etc. In contrast, if you are a self-employed independent contractor, the responsibility falls on your shoulder regarding how efficiently you can use your flying hours to maintain positive cash flows.
Aside from job location and type, years of experience are another factor that significantly affects a helicopter pilot’s salary. An entry-level job will offer less starting pay than one available for anyone with several years of experience. A seasoned commercial helicopter pilot with over 20 years of experience can earn six-figure salaries up to $130K annually and above.
It’s also worth considering the aviation industry forecast when looking at average annual earnings for pilots. With this in mind, it’s easy to appreciate why aspiring pilots are highly encouraged to obtain advanced certifications/training & competent experience, which would bring them higher income margins, thereby further increasing professional growth opportunities.
In conclusion – so “how much does a helicopter pilot make?” The answer could be more straightforward since several factors influence salary levels amongst those working within the field. That said, skilled commercial helicopter pilots enjoy competitive aggregate compensation packages and added benefits depending upon organization size/nature/employment status. Which choice is yours?
To summarize – each geographical area pays differently according to industry demand and varies via Job Title sought after by prospective candidates leading towards variations in remuneration packages & ultimately, it all boils down to individual performance since any aerial activity comes with significant responsibility associated together with enhanced risks involved resulting in commensurate allowances under relevant codes/regulations other than just experience, specialized training & degree of expertise.
The bottom line is that being a helicopter pilot can be a lucrative and fulfilling career for those with the necessary skills, knowledge, and passion. It’s essential to consider all of these factors when entering this profession so that you can make an informed decision about your future. The salary guide provides an insight into what salaries one could earn in this profession, leading towards personal growth & high-end mobility within the industry.