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Helicopter Pilot

Helicopter pilots transport passengers and freight by helicopter. A helicopter is an aircraft that can move in any direction or remain in one place in the air.

Also Known As

Pilot

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Pilots (2271.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Air Pilots, Flight Engineers and Flying Instructors (C171) 
  • 2011 NOC: Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors (2271) 
  • 2016 NOC: Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors (2271) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to provide services such as search-and-rescue operations, aerial surveying and spraying and crop dusting

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information to test new aircraft to evaluate performance

DIRECTIVE

Interest in speaking with crews to direct their activities during flights as captain or co-pilot and in performing captain's duties as first officer, if required; in training other pilots on new equipment, and in preparing them for examinations to validate and upgrade existing licences

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Helicopters are used to:

  • Take aerial photographs
  • Do aerial surveys of wildlife
  • Assist with tree planting
  • Spray crops (for example, pest and insect control)
  • Conduct avalanche control
  • Fight fires
  • Take supplies and equipment to construction sites or oil and gas lease sites
  • Support offshore oilfields
  • Inspect power lines and pipelines
  • Support heli-logging
  • Provide emergency medical support and take patients to hospitals
  • Conduct surveillance and search-and-rescue work
  • Police and enforce regulations
  • Transport passengers, business executives, tourists, heli-hikers, or heli-skiiers
  • Conduct electronic news gathering

Flying a helicopter involves both the hands and feet. The right hand controls the direction of flight. The left hand controls altitude. Foot pedals point the helicopter in the right direction.

Helicopter pilots need good eyesight to scan the instrument panel and navigate the helicopter. To navigate, they use:

  • Ground landmarks
  • Compasses
  • Radio directional equipment
  • GPS
  • Maps
  • Navigational apps such as Foreflight

While flying helicopters, pilots stay in contact with other aircraft and NAV CANADA. NAV CANADA manages Canadian airspace and provides information including weather updates.

Helicopter pilots’ duties can vary a lot from one job to another. They:

  • Determine flight needs
  • Check fuel supply and refuel aircraft as needed
  • Conduct preflight inspections
  • File flight plans
  • Make sure passengers and cargo are properly loaded
  • Talk to passengers about safety
  • Keep records

Helicopter pilots may also need to manage job logistics such as:

  • Fuel locations
  • Required equipment
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Ground support
Working Conditions
Updated Apr 11, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Helicopter pilots can work in urban or remote areas, including offshore. Those who work in remote areas often are away from home for long periods. Sometimes they work in severe weather.

Some days they may be on call. In some industries, such as fire rescue, work hours can be irregular. Other industries have set schedules, allowing pilots to have regular hours.

Some helicopter pilots work full time. Others work on a seasonal basis from spring until fall. They may work on a contract basis.

They often load and unload cargo. The work can be stressful. Flying requires constant alertness. Flight schedules can be tight with pickup or delivery deadlines.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Helicopter pilots need:

  • Positivity
  • Professionalism
  • Maturity
  • Emotional stability
  • Good judgment
  • Adaptability
  • Spatial awareness
  • Good health and vision (with or without corrective lenses)
  • Hand-eye and hand-foot coordination
  • Teamwork skills
  • The ability to work and get along well with a wide range of people
  • The ability to work with little or no supervision for long periods of time

They should enjoy:

  • Flying aircraft
  • Working in a team environment
  • Handling new experiences regularly

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors

2011 NOC: 2271

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 15 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Feb 04, 2022 and Sep 23, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Fly fixed wing aircrafts or helicopters
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Work under pressure
Conduct in-flight tests and monitor functioning of aircraft equipment and systems during flights
Tasks: Fly fixed wing aircrafts or helicopters
Tasks: Co-ordinate flight activities with ground crews and air-traffic control, inform crew members of flight and test procedures and direct activities of aircraft crew during flights
Tasks: Maintain communications with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters and respond to and report in-flight emergencies and malfunctions
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 11, 2022
  • Minimum Education Varies

A high school diploma is not required. However, employers consider it a definite asset.

Helicopter pilots must be licensed by the Government of Canada. The 100-hour course leading to a Commercial Pilot Licence - Helicopter takes 3 to 6 months. Costs range from $50,000 to $86,000 depending on the type of helicopter used for training.

Persons holding a Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplane can complete a 60-hour course. The cost of this helicopter endorsement course is usually less than the 100-hour course.

For a list of flight schools in Alberta, visit the Government of Canada website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 11, 2022
  • Certification Not Regulated

Helicopter pilots must be licensed by the Government of Canada. To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a Category 1 Medical Certificate from the Government of Canada
  • Complete a training course approved or accepted by the Government of Canada
  • Have a Restricted Radio Operators Permit - Aeronautical
  • Pass a written exam (passing grade is 60%)
  • Complete a flight test
  • Have at least 100 hours pilot flight time in helicopters

Persons who hold other licences such as Private Pilot Licence - Helicopter or Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplane have reduced training hour and flight time requirements.

For detailed information, visit the Government of Canada website.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 11, 2022

The job market for new helicopter pilots can be difficult. New pilots will log 100 hours by the time they finish training. This means all new pilots start at the same level.

It can take up to 3 years to complete the first 500 hours. As pilots gain more flight hours, they become more employable. Every added 500 hours can open opportunities in other industries.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2271: Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors occupational group, 81.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2271: Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.5% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is generally low in this occupation but is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 11, 2022

New helicopter pilots generally enter higher pay brackets after 5 years. Salaries may be higher working in logging or heli-skiing.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors

2016 NOC: 2271
Average Wage
$32.87
Per Hour
Average Salary
$69,774.00
Per Year
Average Hours
47.9
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.3
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2271 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $47.09 $22.30 $15.85
Overall $22.87 $69.50 $32.87 $26.44
Top $26.00 $94.23 $49.64 $38.31

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
Transportation and Warehousing
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
67%
67%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
51%
51%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
22%
22%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Aviation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 11, 2022

Aviation, Government of Canada website: tc.canada.ca/en/aviation

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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