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Helicopter Pilot Option


Due to the Helicopter Pilot Program’s closure, we are not accepting any new helicopter pilot student enrollments for the Helicopter Pilot Program. The closure of the Helicopter Pilot Program does not affect any of the other aviation programs which include Air Traffic Control, General Aviation Pilot and Professional Pilot Programs.

Please note that VA student enrollments are subject to Aims Community College’s VA student ratios. Please contact Eric Himler, Director of Aviation for more information. Thank you for your interest in Aims Aviation!

Associate of Applied Science Degree

The Helicopter Pilot Option is designed for those seeking a career as a helicopter pilot. The curricula includes Private and Commercial Pilot Certificates, as well as Instrument and Certified Flight Instructor Ratings.

A sampling of career and job opportunities are listed below.

  • Aerial photography
  • Aerial surveying
  • Agricultural applications
  • Cargo operations
  • Charters
  • Construction
  • Corporate operations
  • Fish spotting
  • Fire fighting
  • Flight instruction
  • Hunting
  • Law enforcement
  • Logging
  • Medical:
    • Organ transport
    • Patient transportation
    • Emergency supply transport
  • Off-shore transport
  • Pipeline patrol
  • Power line patrol
  • Scenic tours
  • Search and rescue
  • Skier transport
  • Test pilot
  • Television news reporter
  • Traffic patrol

How to become a helicopter pilot 

  • Obtain your Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates and ratings. The usual sequence is:
    • Private Pilot Certificate
    • Commercial Pilot Certificate
    • Certified Flight Instructor Certificate
    • Instrument Rating
  • Pilot hiring is based on the applicant's total flight time and type of rotorcraft flown. Most pilots will have about 250 flight hours upon completing the program. Depending on the type of flight operations, pilot hiring minimums may be higher or lower than airplane minimums. There is a current shortage of helicopter pilots and entry-level positions are available on the Gulf, East and West coasts.

Lifestyle and qualifications 

A helicopter pilot must also consider the lifestyle and qualifications when choosing a career path. There is a wide variety of flight operations, with many combinations of work schedules. In some situations, additional non-aviation skill sets and training may be required. For example, aerial applications (crop dusting and firefighting) require specialized equipment and training in the handling of chemicals and toxic hazards. Working for a Fish and Game department may require a college degree in that area.

  • Common work schedules are 14 days on/14 days off, 7 days on/7 days off, 4 days on/3days off, or a normal five-day work week
  • Operations may or may not operate 24/7
  • Depending on the size of operations, pilots may bid or be assigned their flight schedules
  • Depending on the type of operations, pilots may or may not be away from home for extended periods of time
  • Some jobs are seasonal only
  • Some jobs are part time only
  • Recurrent and upgrade training based on company policies
  • Background checks, including driving records, are based on company policies
  • Most operations are conducted under FAR Part 91 regulations, which require pilots to hold a Second Class Medical Certificate; however, some companies may require a First Class Medical Certificate
  • Pilots may be subject to pre-employment, random, and "for cause" drug screening
  • There is no FAA required retirement age
  • Must be able to read, speak, and understand the English language
  • Must be able to obtain and maintain a Second Class Medical Certificate

Salary range* (per month) 

Medical Salary

Range based on qualifications and seniority

$3,200 - $7,900

Off shore


Range based on qualifications and seniority

$3,200 - $8,200

General / Other


Ranged based on type of operations, qualifications and seniority

$2,500 - $8,300

Part time

$30 - $80 per flight hour

*Note: Some employers pay relocation/hiring and other types of bonuses

Course of Study

Estimated Costs * 


In District




College tuition and fees*

$ 6, 410

$ 10,089

$ 15,068

$ 32,617

Flight-training lab fees





Approximate total costs for program:

$ 147,943

$ 151,622

$ 156,601

$ 174,150

Add $32,000 for turbine (R44) option

*Costs subject to change at any time.
*Flight costs based on FAA minimum flight hours. Individual students may require additional flight hours.
*Costs may vary with choice of electives.
* Fall 2014 tuition and fee rates used for estimated cost calculators.