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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.

  • Avg. Salary $64,265.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.15
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 2,400
  • In Demand High
Also Known As


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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Helicopter Pilot is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

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


Interest in analyzing information to test new aircraft to evaluate performance


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

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 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 More

Updated Mar 31, 2018

Helicopters are used to:

  • take aerial photographs
  • do aerial surveys of wildlife
  • fight fires
  • take supplies and equipment to construction sites or oil and gas lease sites
  • support offshore oilfields
  • transport business executives, tourists, heli-hikers or heli-skiiers
  • provide emergency medical support and take patients to hospitals
  • conduct search and rescue work
  • conduct avalanche control
  • inspect power lines and pipelines
  • support heli-logging
  • do coastal rescue and surveillance
  • police and enforce regulations
  • assist with tree planting
  • spray crops (for example, pest and insect control)
  • conduct electronic news gathering.

Helicopter pilots’ duties and working conditions can vary a lot from one job to another. In general, they:

  • determine flight needs
  • contact NAV Canada for weather updates
  • check fuel supply and refuel aircraft as needed
  • conduct pre-flight inspections
  • file flight plans
  • make sure passengers and cargo are properly loaded
  • talk to passengers about safety
  • fly the helicopter
  • use ground landmarks, compasses, radio directional equipment, GPS, and maps to navigate
  • stay in contact with other aircraft and NAV Canada while in flight
  • stay in touch with clients on the ground
  • keep records
  • manage job logistics (such as fuel locations, required equipment, lodging, meals and ground support).

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.

Good eyesight is needed to scan the instrument panel and navigate the helicopter.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Helicopter pilots who work in remote areas often are away from home for long periods. Sometimes they work in severe weather. Their work hours can be irregular. Some days they may be on call.

They often load and unload cargo. The work can be stressful. Some clients can be difficult. Flying requires constant alertness. Flight schedules can be tight with deadlines.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Helicopter pilots need to possess:

  • a good sense of spatial awareness
  • a positive and professional attitude
  • maturity and emotional stability
  • good judgment
  • the ability to make decisions and act quickly
  • good health and good vision (with or without corrective lenses)
  • good reflexes and hand-eye coordination
  • the ability to work with little or no supervision for long periods of time
  • the ability to adapt to change
  • the ability to work and get along well with a wide range of people (from labourers to executives).

They should enjoy:

  • flying aircraft and related equipment
  • evaluating aircraft performance
  • directing the work of others
  • supervising all aspects of planning flights (including managing the support crew and clients).
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Helicopter pilots must be licensed by Transport Canada. The 100-hour course leading to a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence takes 3 to 6 months. Costs range from $50,000 to $86,000 depending on the type of helicopter used for training. The cost of a 60-hour course for a helicopter endorsement can be less. This is for candidates who already have a Commercial Fixed Wing Licence.

A high school diploma is a definite asset but not required. Applicants for a commercial licence must be at least 18 years old. Some trainers prefer trainees to be older. Applicants must be able to read and write in English. Student pilots are required to pass a Transport Canada aviation language test (in English or French), written exam and flight test. They must also pass a Transport Canada Category 1 Aviation Medical exam (administered by a doctor who is certified by Transport Canada). This medical exam confirms fitness to fly and is required to be a commercial helicopter pilot.

Related Education

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

Aurora Helicopter Academy Ltd.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, helicopter pilots must be licensed by Transport Canada

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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

Helicopter pilots are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2271: Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the Transportation and Warehousing [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Transportation and Warehousing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the C171: Air Pilots, Flight Engineers and Flying Instructors occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.9% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 57 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Salaries may be higher working in logging or heli-skiing.

Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.20 $47.09 $21.81 $19.23
Overall $23.22 $62.50 $33.15 $28.87
Top $28.85 $75.00 $52.04 $50.00

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Transportation and Warehousing
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Aviation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Transport Canada website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. 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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