Many people have dreamed their whole lives about flying helicopters for a living. There are few more exciting, challenging, or interesting jobs anywhere. Most people who do it love aviation and would not trade it for any other career. But because it IS a very desirable job, there are many people (perhaps like you) who aspire to fly helicopters as their life's work.
Realistically, it's not easy, quick, or inexpensive to gain the flying experience required to "get your foot in the door." If it were, there would be tens of thousands of helicopter pilots out flying for a living. And that's not the case. It's very important to understand that earning a Commercial Pilot certificate and other advanced FAA ratings is just the first step down the road to becoming a Professional Helicopter pilot. But don't be discouraged!
What are the opportunities? What are the requirements? How long does it take? Where do you start? What does it cost? What kind of salaries do pilots earn? These are not simple questions with simple answers, so bear with me and read on.
Career Job Opportunities
There are some truly exciting jobs open to helicopter pilots. In the civilian area, there are opportunities with law enforcement, TV and radio news, traffic reporting, hospital patient transport, aerial photo, agricultural spraying, offshore oil work, heavy-lift, sightseeing, fire fighting, fish-spotting, pilot flight training, and corporate transportation -- just to name a few.
State and Federal governmental agencies also employ helicopter pilots for conservation, forestry, survey, research, search and rescue, etc. U.S. agencies like Customs, the Border Patrol, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the FBI, and others hire (and sometimes train) professional helicopter pilots.
In the military area, all branches of the Armed Forces train helicopter pilots for a wide variety of jobs. The Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard all use helicopters in their day-to-day...
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