Helicopter Pilot

Helicopter Pilot Image

Helicopter pilots operate the flying controls, monitor the equipment and instruments and, on larger helicopters, instruct and supervise the crew members. They are responsible for the safety of all passengers and crew.

The Work

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

Helicopter pilots in their first four years earn up to around £30,000 a year. With more experience this can rise to around £45,000 or more, particularly if working in the oil and gas industry.


You could be involved in different types of work such as air ambulance, freight transport, construction (for example, carrying materials to the tops of buildings), oil rig supplies, crop spraying, aerial photography or ordnance survey, environmental projects (for example, tracking the movements of salmon), charter or air taxi service for business clients, short pleasure flights for tourists, search and rescue in remote, coastal or mountainous areas or rescue work at sea.

Workforce Employment Status

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Useful Subjects

Getting In

To become a commercial helicopter pilot you must gain the Commercial Pilot’s Licence (Helicopter) (CPL(H)). This is the standard professional licence. Subsequently, you can go on to acquire the Airline Transport Pilot (Helicopter) Licence (ATPL(H)). This is the senior licence, which is necessary for piloting two-crew helicopters.

You can get the CPL(H) in one of two ways:

Modular Training

Integrated Training

Fully qualified military helicopter pilots can convert their licence to allow them to operate as commercial pilots.

Whether Modular or Integrated, the cost for the complete CPL(H) course is in the region of £50,000 and, where relevant, the cost of board and lodgings is usually additional.

To fly across much of Europe pilots are required to be licensed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In the UK, EASA licenses are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), who also issue and enforce the CPL (H).

Jobs can be with the oil industry, with police search and rescue or with private commercial companies.

There is a lot of competition for jobs. Before borrowing or spending the cost of training you should bear in mind that there is no guarantee of a job at the end of it.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland


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Job Outlook Scotland and UK

1.2 %
  United Kingdom
2.1 %

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What Does it Take?

You need to be able to:

You also need to be:


Getting On

More Information

Although pilots are employed throughout the UK, there is a concentration in the east and south of England and in the east of Scotland.


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The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Helicopter Services Limited
Tel: 01494 513166
Twitter: @HeliServicesUK

Honourable Company of Air Pilots
Tel: 020 7404 4032
Twitter: @AirPilotsCo

This was formerly the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN)

L3 Airline Academy
Tel: 01293 491381
Twitter: @L3HarrisAcademy

L3 Airline Academy offers various training routes to becoming a pilot and is used by a number of airlines as their approved training operator. They have taken over from CTC Aviation.

Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)
Tel: 020 7670 4326
Website (2):
Twitter: @AeroSociety

The Royal Aeronautical Society has a website called Careers in Aerospace which provides a wide range of information on careers in the aeronautical industry.

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