Helicopter Pilot Careers In Federal and State Government

What do the NOAA, DEA, FBI, NPS, Border Patrol, Customs, NASA and the FAA all have in common. If you said they're all government agencies you'd be right. If you said they all have helicopter pilots employed by them you'd also be right.

The opportunities for helicopter pilots in government is not one that's widely publicized but these can be some of the best jobs in aviation. These opportunities don't only exist at the Federal level but at the state level also. State departments of wildlife/fisheries, park departments, Marine patrols, transportation authorities and others all utilize helicopters to to perform certain jobs.

The lifestyle of a helicopter pilot employed by the government will differ as much as the agencies they work for. Helicopter pilots in the FBI and DEA can expect to perform a lot of surveillance missions. Helicopter pilots employed by a fisheries department can expect to do flying related to supporting research and enforcing maritime fishing laws and treaties. Pilots at NOAA might fly scientists to glaciers to take scientific reading while pilots at customs will fly in pursuit of aircraft and boats suspected of drug smuggling. The amount of time you spend away from home depends on what agency you fly for. It can range from a few days to a month or more.

The requirements to fly for a government agency differ but for the most part you can expect to need about 1500 hrs of helicopter time and an instrument rating. Certain departments, most notably the FBI and DEA, require their pilots to be special agents for a period of time first, and then request a transfer to aviation. Other agencies don't have those requirements. Pay for government pilots starts at approximately $55,000 and goes up to about $112,000. In addition you'll receive the other benefits that government employees receive.

As you can see a career as a helicopter pilot for the federal or state government can be exciting, challenging, and lucrative.



Get our free guide and take a look at the numerous career opportunities available in commercial/government helicopter aviation.

Just fill out your name and e-mail address in the boxes below.
helicopter pilot careers guide