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.
Oregon has some great options when it comes to helicopter jobs. As a helicopter pilot, finding the right job in Oregon can be tough because there are so many options. FLYING reviewed the most popular helicopter pilot jobs in California and five came out on top.
Quicklook: Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs in Oregon
- Best for adrenaline seekers: Search and rescue pilot
- Best for most challenging: Helicopter skiing pilot
- Best public service career: Law enforcement helicopter pilot
- Best for internal satisfaction: Emergency medical service/air ambulance helicopter pilot
- Best for job security: Military helicopter pilot
5 Best Helicopter Pilot Jobs – Oregon
When choosing the best helicopter job for you in Oregon, 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 Oregon.
Search and Rescue Pilot
Search and rescue pilots in Oregon are employed by the Oregon search and rescue (SAR) to provide safe and reliable rescue efforts to those lost in the wilderness. The Search and Rescue Department is committed to providing safe and reliable airborne response for medical evacuation in addition to search and rescue.
Location: Widespread throughout the state where needed
Salary or Per-Trip Price: The average salary for a search and rescue pilot in Oregon is approximately $88,700 per year.
- A comprehensive government benefits package, including medical/dental insurance.
- Retirement pension (20 years or more)
- High-risk environment, flying and landing in and around potential hazards and mountainous terrain
- Search and rescue may involve long hours
Helicopter Skiing Pilot
A helicopter ski pilot is similar to a tour guide pilot but is different in the fact that the pilot will land and drop passengers high in the mountains for the purpose of skiing to the bottom. Helicopter ski pilots must take specific training courses to understand the safety and skill needed to land and drop skiers from high altitudes in snow.
Location: Jobs for helicopter skiing pilots are located at all major mountain skiing destinations in Oregon.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Depending on the ski resort you are employed with, pay for a helicopter ski pilot can range anywhere from $18.00/hr to $75,000 per year.
- Exciting career with multiple mountain stations
- National parks have great benefits
- Lower pay at some resorts
- High-risk environment in snowy conditions
- Additional training required
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 is a highly skilled position that requires the ability to maneuver and land in tight metropolitan areas as well as mountainous 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, the Drug Enforcement Administration, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Location: Throughout Oregon with high demand in metropolitan areas.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: The average annual pay for a law enforcement helicopter pilot in Oregon is $80,000 a year.
- Job security
- State and/or federal government benefits ie. paid holidays, 401K matching, etc.
- Public service career
- High-risk environment with exposure to criminal activity
Emergency Medical Service/Air Ambulance Helicopter Pilot
Emergency medical service helicopter pilots are a top job in Oregon and those that do it are an essential part of the emergency service department.
Location: All major cities within Oregon house an air ambulance division.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Average salary for medical services pilots in Oregon is $65,469, with 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
- Emergency medicine can bring an intrinsic reward
- Lower paying helicopter pilot job in Oregon
- High stress
- High risk
- On call for long hours
Military Helicopter Pilot
Oregon is home to 11 military bases. They include bases for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Military helicopter pilots are part of an elite group of service members who are trained to fly helicopters inside and outside of wartime. The military has different types of helicopters depending on the branch. For example, the Navy has SH-60 Seahawks and V-22 Ospreys, while the Army flies AH-64 Apaches and UH-60 Black Hawks, and more.
Location: Military stations in Oregon, such as Air Station Astoria in Astoria, Oregon.
Salary or Per-Trip Price: Military pay is based on time in service and location of orders.
- 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
Commercial Helicopter Pilot Requirements in Oregon
To become a commercial pilot in the state of Oregon 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 are devoting to training and where you complete your training. Starting flight training with no experience, to getting a commercial helicopter certificate may take six to 12 months, if you are attending training full time. For part-time student pilots, a commercial 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, and the technical skills the job requires, but it is important to understand your potential employer’s industry and operations. Job security is important to understand and 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 $80,148 to $121,547 a year, or more; however, Oregon helicopter pilots are among the highest paid in the US around $147,889 per year.
When searching for a pilot job, focus on the area you want to live in. Whether that be Oregon or another state, helicopter pilot jobs are everywhere, so choose a location you will be happy to live in for the long term.
Pacific Northwest Takeoff
Applying to a new job can be daunting but in Montana you have options. Choosing the best helicopter job in Oregon 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.
Depending on the type of industry and your job priorities, the highest paying helicopter pilot jobs in Washington are medevac pilots.
Depending on the type of industry and your job priorities, the highest paying helicopter pilot jobs in California are helicopter transport and medevac pilots.
Military pay is based on time in service and location of orders