The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives the average annual salary of all transport pilots as $44,130 per year as of 2008. This average was below commercial pilots at $66,710 or airline pilots at $114,000 per year. Nevertheless, EMS pilots generally get paid more than $44,000, depending on the city. The Helicopter Pilot Careers website says that pay can also vary depending on if the EMS service is paid for by the government, through the hospital itself or via an outside contractor.
A hospital helicopter pilot is also known as an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) pilot. These pilots transfer people dealing with life-threatening injuries from one location to a nearby hospital or from the hospital to another medical facility. They also fly other medical transports that aren't emergencies. The salary of an EMS pilot is quite good, but pay can also vary depending on where the pilot lives.
Starting and Top Salary
Helicopter Pilot Careers also notes that when you start out as an EMS pilot, you generally make around $45,000 per year. However, they say it can top out to as much as $85,000 per year, which ultimately gets you into the range of what commercial pilots make. Despite the high pay, hours are going to vary widely based on emergency calls. Some days pilots can potentially work 12 hours or longer.
Atlanta, Georgia is where pilots want to live to make the rare maximum salary as an EMS helicopter pilot. There, pilots can earn an uncommon top payment of $97,786 per year. The only other city that comes close is the New York City or Manhattan area at $78,964. Los Angeles, California is third with an annual salary of $65,138. As always, larger cities provide the maximum salary.
If pilots want to work as an EMS helicopter pilot in Orlando, Florida, they can expect to be paid the least of any city studied by the Salary Expert site. Orlando only pays $36,335 per year. Chicago, Illinois also pays quite low, though better than Orlando at an annual salary of $41,036. The third lowest-paying city that finally gets into the $50,000 range per year is Phoenix, Arizona at $52,356.
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