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.
Colorado is a good market for helicopter pilots, with a range of job descriptions in demand, from air ambulance pilots to air taxi and charter providers. Some of the positions, including those for chief pilots, helicopter instructors and check airmen, require more experience but the diversity of jobs available means there are opportunities for lower-time pilots as well.
Quicklook: Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs in Colorado
- Best for pilots with more experience and a desire to handle management tasks for operations from charters to fire suppression: Chief Pilot, Colorado Heli-Ops, Broomfield, Colorado
- Best for pilots with mountain flying experience who enjoy the challenge of rapidly changing weather and terrain conditions: Helicopter Skiing Pilot, Telluride Helitrax, Telluride, Colorado
- Best for senior pilots with experience in flight instruction, advanced training and certification standards: Helicopter Check Airman, Air Methods Corp., Greenwood Village, Colorado
- Best for applicants who are already rotor-wing CFIs with extensive instructing experience: Helicopter Flight Instructor, FlightSafety International, Denver, Colorado
- Best for pilots wishing to enter the medical-transport segment of the rotor-wing flying industry: AS350 Air Ambulance Pilot, Med-Trans Corp., Greeley, Colorado
5 Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs – Colorado
The following are some of the most appealing helicopter pilot jobs in Colorado, ranging from travel and sightseeing charters to flight instruction and chief pilot positions for senior candidates with extensive experience.
Chief Pilot, Colorado Heli-Ops
Best for senior pilots capable of supervising and managing others.
Chief pilots typically play roles in training, evaluating and supervising junior pilots. They also often have responsibilities in managing company aircraft.
Location: Broomfield, Colorado
Company Website: https://www.coloradoheliops.com/
Company Revenue: $1.1 million
Salary or Per-Trip Price: $140,000 to $230,000
- High pay
- Management opportunities
- Pressure of added responsibilities
- Possibly more time supervising, less time flying
Helicopter Skiing Pilot, Telluride Helitrax
Best for pilots accustomed to high altitude and mountain flying.
This guide service leads a variety of tours and custom adventures in the San Juan Mountains. They are known for their specialty of helicopter skiing. Company pilots carry small groups of skiers to mountain summits, typically for six long runs per day, though customers can buy extra runs. Combined runs total as much as 14,000 feet.
Location: Telluride, Colorado
Company Website: helitrax.com
Company Revenue: est. $2.8 million
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Trip cost is $1,650 per person, per day, which includes six runs,
- Exciting high-altitude setting
- Challenging conditions for ambitious pilots
- Variety of missions
- Specialized flying
- Mountain flying can be especially risky
- Difficult weather conditions
- Requires extreme concentration
- Possible pressure to please customers
Helicopter Check Airman, Air Methods Corp:
Best for senior pilots with advanced instruction experience and knowledge of certification standards.
The Check Airman is responsible for ensuring that company pilots are properly trained and qualified for duty. They periodically check the currency of pilots on staff and make sure they continue to meet qualification standards.
Location: Greenwood Village, Colorado, operates in 48 states
Company Website: airmethods.com
Company Revenue: est. $1 billion to $5 billion
Salary or Per-Trip Price: median pilot salary $92,000
- Large, well-established employer
- Higher pay than many airline jobs
- Lots of flight time
- Variety of mision details
Disadvantages: [lay out the disadvantages of this option]
- High-pressure life-and-death missions
- Difficult conditions
- Stressful on-call nature of work
Helicopter Flight Instructor, FlightSafety International
The flight instructor conducts pilot ground and simulator training courses., develops and prepares training materials, and evaluates trainees’ progress through the curriculum. They also recommend candidates for qualification or additional training and identify training issues that might require review.
Location: Denver, Colorado, company headquarters is in New York and the company has operations across the globe on five continents
Company Website: flightsafety.com
Company Revenue: est. $1 billion to $5 billion
Salary or Per-Trip Price: $91,000
- Regular hours
- High demand for simulator instruction
- More predictable schedule
- Instructing in a simulator can be less exciting than in the cockpit
- Fewer chances for networking within other parts of the aviation industry
- Less variety within the daily routine
AS350 Air Ambulance Pilot, Med-Trans Corp., Greeley, Colorado
Best for helicopter pilots who want to break into the emergency medical transport segment of the industry
Shifts for this medical transport job are seven days on and seven off, with flights scheduled during the day and at night. Pilots are responsible for aircraft readiness and are expected to work closely with ground support and other air crew members.
Location: Greeley, Colorado, with company headquarters in Denton, Texas. With 90 bases across 25 states
Company Website: med-trans.com
Employees: between 500 and 1,000
Company Revenue: est. $50 million to $99 million
Salary or Per-Trip Price: $70,000 to $93,000
- Exciting missions
- Life-and-death drama
- Fast-paced operations
- Demand for precision flight and quick decisions
- Pressure of high-stakes operations
- Intense schedule;e
- Difficult work-life balance
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Requirements in Colorado
Federal Aviation Administration regulations require applicants for a commercial helicopter certificate to be at least 18 years old, speak, read and understand English, have a FAA private pilot certificate, at least a second class medical certificate, 150 hours of flight experience, 30 hours of ground instruction and pass FAA knowledge and flight tests.
How Long Does it Take To Become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot?
There is a minimum requirement of 150 flight hours for certification as a commercial helicopter pilot. Companies looking to hire pilots have various additional requirements sometimes topping 2,000 flight hours.
What To Consider When Looking for Helicopter Pilot Jobs
While pilots may work hard to convince potential employers to hire them, they also have to consider what elements of the job they consider most important.
Is the job you are pursuing likely to be one you can keep for the long haul? Are the company’s services perennially in demand? Given the pay and other benefits, is working there a sustainable proposition? Pilots need to answer these questions when determining if a particular job makes sense for them.
Often pilot-training programs focus sharply on safety, but the level of focus can vary widely from one aviation company to the next. Pilots looking for work have to set their own high safety standards and stick with them even if a prospective employer does not.
Salaries can vary considerably for helicopter pilots depending on the nature of the work and the size and customer base of the company. Some companies offering aviation services employ pilots on staff and maintain their own aircraft fleets. Others hire pilots as independent contractors – a deal that can be less satisfying and far less lucrative.
What Are The Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs? It Depends
There is a wide variety of pilot jobs within the helicopter transport segment of the aviation industry, and a variety of pilots. Whether they wind up happy in their jobs flying helicopters or not will depend on what they expect to gain from the experience – and how much effort they are willing to put in.
Sightseeing helicopter pilot jobs are especially plentiful because the Grand Canyon and other natural attractions are easily viewed from the air.
Helicopter tours, newscasting, and law enforcement are three of the big markets for commercial helicopter pilots in California.
Salaries depend a great deal on the nature of the helicopter pilot’s job. Are you transporting critical medical patients or spraying crops? Do you work for a large company-owned fleet or are you serving as an on-call independent contractor. Terms and conditions of such contracts can significantly affect pay.