Editor’s note: The following article is not intended to be a ranking, but is only to serve as a list of possible options. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
The beautiful desert landscape and mountains of Arizona may be coaxing you to enjoy the great outdoors and look for a new career in the state. Being a helicopter pilot in Arizona can come with many benefits.
Here, FLYING examines Arizona-based helicopter pilot jobs that stand out as having high rewards and healthy salaries.
Quicklook: Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs in Utah
- Best for the views: Helicopter Tour Guide Pilot
- Best pay: Corporate/Private Helicopter Pilot
- Best for internal satisfaction: Emergency Medical Service/Air Ambulance Helicopter Pilot
- Best for job security: Military Helicopter Pilot
- Best public service career: Law Enforcement Helicopter Pilot
5 Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs – Arizona
When choosing the best helicopter job for you in Arizona, it is best to understand what kind of industry you are looking to get into, if this is a time-building stepping stone and the size of the company. Once you have gauged these metrics, you can look into jobs that fit the bill. Here are our top picks for the best helicopter jobs in Arizona.
Helicopter Tour Guide Pilot
Arizona is home to many busy tourist destinations, such as the Grand Canyon. This means there is plenty of opportunities to gain experience and earn money as a tour guide helicopter pilot. As a tour guide helicopter pilot, you will fly clients over popular locations and explain the scenery below. Popular sites to see include the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.
Location: Major tourist locations.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Helicopter tour guide pilots in Arizona make an average salary of $45,109 per year.
- Interacting with new people daily
- Great for time building
- Low-paying pilot job
- No set schedule
- Repetitive work
Corporate/Private Helicopter Pilot
Corporate/private helicopter pilots are hired by an entity or person to fly them from place to place. This career pathway can be very lucrative and is one of the highest paying pilot jobs in Arizona because of the large presence of major corporations in Phoenix.
Location: Large cities such as Phoenix.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Corporate/private helicopter pilots in Arizona make between $150,000-$200,000 per year.
- High pay and benefits
- Meet the wealthy, famous, and interesting
- On call by the owner of the aircraft
- Low job security
- High time required for hiring
Emergency Medical Service/Air Ambulance Helicopter Pilot
Emergency medical service helicopter pilots are a top job in Arizona and those that do it are an essential part of the emergency service department.
Location: All major cities within Arizona house an air ambulance division.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: The average salary for medical services pilots in Arizona is $72,000, with the potential to make more in large metropolitan areas.
- Most emergency service or hospital air ambulance divisions offer comprehensive health benefits packages with medical/hospital coverage
- Supporting emergency medical services can provide intrinsic rewards
- High stress
- High risk
- On call for long hours
Military Helicopter Pilot
Arizona is home to seven military bases. They include bases for the Army, Marines, and Air Force. Military helicopter pilots are part of an elite group of service members who are trained to fly helicopters during times of war and peace. The military has different types of helicopters depending on the branch of service. For example, the Army flies AH-64 Apaches, UH-60 Black Hawks, and more.
Location: Military stations in Arizona, such as the Yuma Proving Ground
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Military pay is based on time in service, job assignment and location.
- Job security, health, and housing benefits for you and your family
- Opportunity to travel the world
- Paid education benefits
- Contractual obligations
- Possible separation from loved ones for extended periods of time
Law Enforcement Helicopter Pilot
Law enforcement helicopter pilots, similar to medevac pilots, are at the front line in emergencies. Being a law enforcement helicopter pilot in Arizona is a highly skilled position that requires the ability to maneuver and land in metropolitan areas as well as in remote terrain. Law enforcement helicopter pilots can be employed as a deputy sheriff for a county, as an officer for a city police department, or as an agent for a national organization, like the Border Patrol or the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Location: All major cities in Arizona will have law enforcement helicopter jobs.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: The average annual pay for a law enforcement helicopter pilot in Arizona is $73,000 a year.
- Job security
- State and/or federal government benefits, i.e.: paid holidays, 401K matching, etc.
- Public service career
- High-risk environment with exposure to criminal activity
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Requirements in Arizona
To become a commercial helicopter pilot in the state of Arizona you must:
- Hold a current commercial helicopter pilot certificate
- Be at least 18 years old
- Read, speak, write, and understand the English language
- Hold at least a second-class medical certificate
- Obtain a minimum of 40 hours of helicopter flight training and 10 hours of ground instruction
- Satisfactorily pass an FAA-required flight test
After all the requirements are completed, you may apply to helicopter jobs within the state.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot?
The timeframe it takes to become a helicopter pilot depends a lot on how much time you devote to training and where you complete your training. It can take six to 12 months to earn a commercial helicopter pilot certificate from start to finish if you are training full time. For part-time student pilots, a commercial helicopter pilot certificate can take longer, up to 12 to 24 months.
What To Consider When Looking for Helicopter Pilot Jobs
When determining if a helicopter pilot job is right for you, there are several basic questions you should ask:
1. Does the company offer job security?
2. What are the safety protocols?
3. How much will you make?
4. What is the location of the position?
Choose the position that best meets your requirements in each of these areas before applying.
Helicopter pilot jobs normally come with inherent job security due to the high-demand for skilled and experienced pilots, and the technical skills the job requires, but it is important to understand your potential employer’s industry and operations, as these may affect job security. Job security is important to take into consideration when applying for a helicopter pilot job because you do not want to be stuck looking for a new position, in cases of company closure, bankruptcy, or a recession. Look for long-standing companies that have years of experience hiring and training pilots. Ask current and former employees their opinions or look at reviews online to gauge job security.
It’s important to show that you put safety first in any aviation profession, but especially as a pilot. Safety in the aviation industry should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Companies that hire helicopter pilots should be dedicated to the safety of the pilot as well as the passengers. Research the safety protocols of the companies you apply to online or by asking current and former pilots. During your interviews, ask the hiring manager if there are any specific safety protocols you should be aware of before taking the position.
Salary is one of the most important metrics when applying for a new position. Set a guideline for yourself and your family and apply to companies and positions that meet those guidelines. If you are right out of flight school, do not have unrealistic expectations of salary, but find the best position to fit your needs in the short term. The more experience you get, the higher the salary you can ask for. Salaries for helicopter pilot jobs average between between $84,423 and $127,987 a year, or more; however, Arizona helicopter pilots are among the highest paid in the U.S. around $99,546 per year.
When searching for a pilot job, focus on the area you want to live in. Whether that be Arizona or another state, helicopter pilot jobs are everywhere, so choose a location you will be happy to live in for the long term.
Applying to a new job can be daunting but in Arizona you have options. Choosing the best helicopter job in Arizona for you can be easy if you take into consideration the most important metrics, safety, salary, location, and job security. Learn more about helicopter pilot jobs and stay up to date on the top news in aviation by subscribing to FLYING Magazine.
There are quite a few helicopter tours to choose from near the Grand Canyon. Our top picks are Maverick Helicopters and Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters.
The average salary of a helicopter pilot in the U.S. is about $94,519 a year. On average, helicopter pilots make anywhere from $80,148 to $121,547 a year