How to become a helicopter pilot
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- specialist courses run by private training organisations
You could do a university degree in air transport or aviation, which includes helicopter pilot training with an approved flight training organisation.
To start a course, you'll need:
- A levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications
- a minimum of a Class 2 medical certificate
- to be over 18
You'll need to apply for the higher level Class 1 medical certificate during your course to get your Commercial Pilot's Licence. If you wish, you can apply for the Class 1 certificate before your course starts.
As well as standard university fees, you will need to fund the flight training part of your course. Universities can advise you about this.
You'll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
You can apply to join a course with a flight training organisation to get your Commercial Pilot Licence CPL(H). You'll need the CPL(H) to fly helicopters commercially.
To get onto a training course, you'll need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths, and science
- to pass skills tests and a thorough medical assessment
- a minimum of 155 hours' flying time
The number of flying hours needed may be lower for trained aeroplane pilots.
As a first step, you could train for a Private Pilot's Licence PPL(H) which allows you to fly for personal use and build up your flying hours. The flight training school would assess your skills, and could ask you to take some pre-course training to prove that you have the level of ability and skills needed for commercial training.
Training is expensive and you'll usually have to fund it yourself.
If you're thinking of a career as a helicopter pilot, it's strongly recommended that you consider taking a pilot Aptitude Assessment before you start training.
You could also take a trial lesson with a flight school to make sure this is the right career for you.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the The Honourable Company of Air Pilots, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
You can find out more about becoming a helicopter pilot from: