How to Become a MEDEVAC Pilot

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Study flight training and obtain paramedic credentials to prepare for your career.
Study flight training and obtain paramedic credentials to prepare for your career. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

It’s dangerous, exciting and everything a heroic job is meant to be, but if you’re not cut out to become a medevac pilot, you’re going to find out fast once you get into the rigorous training it takes to earn your credentials. You’ll feel a little like Janus the two-headed Roman god as you perfect your flying skills in the sky and triage on the ground, but once you’ve reached your goal, you’ll enjoy a career that’s satisfying beyond words.

Start as early as possible to train for a career as a medevac pilot. Sign up for a variety of high school math and science classes and then major in a college discipline that continues your education on two tracts: science and flying. Some students follow a pre-med curriculum in college to learn the basics required to undertake lifesaving tasks as the member of a medevac crew. Otherwise, load your schedule with math and science classes and touch bases with a career counselor long before you graduate to be sure nothing slips between the cracks.

Earn your wings. Join a college campus ROTC program to get early flying training on the government’s dime. Otherwise, take private flying lessons while you're in college — if you have the time and money to do so. You'll receive intensive, one-on-one training in fixed wing and helicopter piloting at a private flight school if you articulate your ambition to fly medevac missions. Spend enough time flying while in college and you could amass enough flying hours to take the written and flying tests required to qualify for your first pilot’s license.

Gain entry level experience. If you opted for an ROTC program in college, you’ll fulfill the rest of your obligation in the military, flying fixed wing aircraft or helicopters, sometimes under extreme combat circumstances. This is priceless training that helps prepare a medevac pilot for risky situations encountered in the field. Once your tour of duty is complete — or if you skipped this path — join a fire department or hospital paramedic rescue unit to gain experience doing triage in the field after landing in difficult terrains to accomplish rescues.

Obtain additional licenses and certifications. Corporations like CareFlight, a company that hires and places medevac pilots, are extremely picky when they review credentials so you can't have too many. CareFlight requires FAA medical certification as well as the highest level of licensure you’re able to acquire. A third class license is acceptable, but you’ll compete for jobs with more experienced pilots, so aim for at least the second class flying license held by commercial pilots. Jump to the head of the candidate line if you hold a first class FAA license.

Apply for medevac crew job openings. Undertake your search exactly as you would were you applying for any job: Prepare a resume and gather references, obtain your military record (if applicable) plus copies of your licenses and paramedic certificates to prove you’ve been properly trained in both worlds. Find job openings in all sorts of places — on employment websites, through CareFlight and other corporations dedicated to recruiting staff for hospitals, clinics and other medical institutions.

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