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Helicopter Pilot

Helicopter pilots transport passengers and freight by helicopter, an aircraft that can move in any direction at varying speeds or remain stationary in the air.

  • Avg. Salary $75,710.00
  • Avg. Wage $36.35
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 2,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Pilot

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

65%
65%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Helicopter Pilot is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pilots
NOC code: 2271.1
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

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

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Helicopters are used for purposes such as:

  • taking aerial photographs
  • aerial surveys of wildlife
  • prospecting
  • firefighting
  • transporting supplies and equipment to construction sites or oil and gas lease sites
  • transporting business executives, medical patients or tourists
  • search and rescue
  • inspecting power lines and pipelines
  • heli-logging
  • heli-hiking or heli-skiing.

Helicopter pilots' duties and working conditions can vary a great deal from one job to another but, in general, they:

  • determine flight requirements and contact NAV Canada for weather information
  • check fuel supply and conduct pre-flight inspections
  • ensure that passengers and cargo are loaded properly
  • instruct passengers on safety
  • operate the helicopter
  • navigate using landmarks on the ground, compasses, radio directional equipment, global positioning system (GPS) and maps
  • communicate while in flight with other aircraft, NAV Canada and customers or clients on the ground
  • file flight plans and keep records.

Operating a helicopter involves controlling the direction of flight with your right hand, controlling altitude with your left hand, pushing pedals with your feet to keep the machine pointing in the right direction and, at the same time, scanning the instrument panel and navigating the helicopter. Good co-ordination and many hours of practise are required to master these skills.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Helicopter pilots employed in remote areas often are away from home for extended periods of time and sometimes work in severe weather conditions. Their hours of work can be irregular and, some days, they may be on call.

Helicopter pilots often load and unload cargo. Dealing with difficult customers and the need to be constantly alert, combined with tight flight schedules or deadlines, can be stressful.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Helicopter pilots need the following characteristics:

  • a good sense of spatial orientation
  • good judgment and the ability to make decisions and act quickly
  • good health, vision (with or without corrective lenses), reflexes and hand-eye co-ordination
  • the ability to work with little or no supervision for extended periods of time
  • the flexibility required to deal with loads and tasks that vary constantly
  • the ability to work and communicate effectively with personnel ranging from labourers to company presidents.

They should enjoy operating aircraft and related equipment, evaluating aircraft performance and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Helicopter pilots must be licensed by Transport Canada. The 100-hour course leading to a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence takes three to six months to complete and 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 if the candidate already has a Commercial Fixed Wing Licence is somewhat less.

A high school diploma is a definite asset but not required. Applicants for a commercial licence must be at least 18 years of age. However, some trainers prefer prospective helicopter pilots to be somewhat older because the work requires considerable maturity and emotional stability. Applicants must be able to read and write in English and pass a Transport Canada Category 1 medical examination.


Related Education

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

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Some helicopter pilots are employed full time. Others work on a seasonal basis from spring until fall or 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Transportation and Warehousing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,000 Albertans are employed in the Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.9% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 57 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As helicopter pilots form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for helicopter pilots.  

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 Dec 19, 2016

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

Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors
NOC code: 2271

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $14.42 $57.69 $22.68 $19.23
Overall $17.31 $68.75 $36.35 $29.00
Top $23.08 $85.38 $50.97 $48.08

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
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

65%
65%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

35%
35%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

22%
22%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Electro-Technologies
    • Logistics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Aviation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Transport Canada website: www.tc.gc.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 10, 2014. 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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