Job type

Helicopter pilot

£25k - £45k

Typical salary

39 – 41

Hours per week

Helicopter pilots fly single- and multi-engined helicopters for business, leisure or emergency response.

More info

  • Fly helicopters for a living for businesses, leisure and tourism, or in the public services
  • You'll need excellent practical skills, attention to detail and calmness under pressure
  • Exciting, but highly responsible work that could take you all over the world

As a helicopter pilot, you'll spend your days flying helicopters, as well as maintaining safety checks and planning for flights.


  • Check weather conditions and airspace restrictions along your planned route
  • File flight plans with authorities
  • Work out fuel requirements and maximum load
  • Check the helicopter's equipment and instruments
  • Carry out safety checks
  • Gain clearance from air traffic control

During the flight, you'll:

  • Use instruments to navigate
  • Control height and speed
  • Communicate with air traffic controllers

After landing, you'd complete paperwork before preparing for the next flight. 


You could work on an aircraft or at an airport building. Your working environment will be at height and you'll travel often.

You'll need

This role requires knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits, the ability to control and operate equipment, thoroughness and attention to detail, customer service and thinking and reasoning skills, the ability to work well with others, and patience in stressful situations.

You could do a university degree in air transport or aviation, which includes helicopter pilot training with an approved flight training organisation.

To fly helicopters for a living, you'll need a Commercial Pilot Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). For the course to achieve a licence, you'll need to have 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and science, pass skills tests and a thorough medical assessment, and have a minimum of 155 hours' flying time. The hours needed may be reduced for trained aeroplane pilots.

You could train for a Private Pilot's Licence (PPL(H)) as a first step. Training is expensive and you'll usually have to fund it yourself. You could also join the army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force as a trainee pilot.

You'll also need to be 18 and pass the Civil Aviation Authority class 1 medical, which assesses fitness, hearing and vision. You'll need to meet certain nationality rules to apply. All jobs are open to British nationals, and many are open also to Commonwealth citizens.

It is strongly recommended to take a pilot Aptitude Assessment before you start any training, as well as a trial lesson with a flight school to ensure the right career choice.


With experience, you could combine flying with ground duties, recruitment or training. You could also start your own business providing recreational flights or freight services, or become a flying instructor.