Emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter pilots are highly trained individuals, responsible for the solidity of the aircraft they are piloting and for the safety of everyone on-board. Helicopter pilots earn a yearly salary that is increased by bonuses and profit sharing. Most aircraft support two pilots: the captain and the co-pilot, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The co-pilot is also known as the first officer, says AVJobs, and initially makes much less money than the lead pilot.
As of 2010, helicopter pilots working for emergency medical facilities earn between $51,000 and $64,000 annually, on average. Pilots working for the military earn between $50,000 and $80,000 a year, say PayScale, and pilots focusing on the industry of medical supply transport earn between $48,000 and $74,000 a year.
By comparison, helicopter pilots working for a commercial industry earn between $52,000 and $80,000 a year, as of 2010, according to PayScale. Helicopter pilots who are in law enforcement earn a salary ranging between $53,000 and $92,000 a year, while pilots who work for an airline company earn as high as $103,000 a year.
Education and Training
As of 2010, most helicopter pilots have been trained in the military, though more pilots are attending FAA accredited training facilities to earn their experience, says the BLS. A high school education is all that's required, but as the number of applicants with degrees increases, so do employers' preference for a college graduate. Flight school consists of one week of company indoctrination, three to six weeks of ground school, and 25 hours of operating experience.
In order to qualify for licensure, an applicant must be at least 18 years old and have 250 hours' experience flying. Additionally, EMS pilots must undergo an instrument rating, something that isn't necessary in other flying fields, says Midwest Helicopter. This means that an EMS pilot must be able to operate the helicopter in all types of weather, relying on his instruments when necessary.
The BLS is predicting a 12 percent job increase from now through the year 2018 for the entire aircraft pilot profession. The primary reason for the job increases is that a growing population will be in need of such services.