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Helicopter pilot jobs range from sightseeing and aerial photography to working with emergency rescue groups or news-gathering agencies. Other career opportunities include instruction, forestry, surveying and mapping, heavy-lifting, and flying for the military. Helicopter pilots must successfully complete a flight training program and log a certain number of hours flying before beginning any job. Specialized training, based on the kind of aircraft the pilot flies, is another requirement. Helicopter pilots are also required to have and maintain excellent physical and mental health.
A relatively common helicopter pilot job is working for emergency medical services. This typically involves flying solo and in weather conditions and over terrain that is challenging. Helicopter pilots in emergency services fields are often called upon to airlift victims of accidents, fires, or natural disasters such as flooding or the aftermath of a severe storm. Hospitals may hire pilots and pay for equipment, or the services may be provided to a hospital by an outside company.
Similar to hospital-based jobs, helicopter pilots who fly for news agencies often travel to the scene of severe accidents or natural disasters. Other typical job duties involve getting aerial footage for sporting events or traffic jams. News helicopter pilots may simply provide a means to get aerial footage, or they may transport reporters to the scene as well.
Law enforcement, military, and government agencies also offer helicopter pilot jobs. Government jobs are found in areas such as transportation, wildlife monitoring, immigration, and national security. An advantage to flying for the military is the chance to earn free and advanced training. These jobs can, of course, be dangerous, especially when flying near combat zones. Helicopter pilot jobs with law enforcement agencies typically require pilots to also be fully-trained police officers.
Other helicopter pilot jobs may entail lifting heavy equipment to work sites. For example, pilots that work with off-shore oil rigs are used to transport workers and equipment. These workers may be required to stay on-site for several days so they are readily available for transporting. Some helicopter pilots land high-flying careers by working with television programs or motion picture production companies. Others spend most of their work day with their feet on the ground by working as flight instructors.
Being a helicopter pilot requires an ability to handle stress, work under pressure, and think quickly. Superior communication skills are needed for communicating effectively and accurately with air traffic control, passengers, and other pilots. Helicopter pilots are often required to land in tight spaces, so a good sense of spatial perception is also essential to performing the job.
Becoming a commercial helicopter pilot may require additional training, according to an employer's requirements. The amount of time it takes to complete training depends on the student's available time and money, as well as scheduling constraints of the flight school. Anyone interested in this type of training should research local flight schools to determine which ones have an adequate number of instructors.
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