Do I Need a Helicopter Pilot Associate Degree?
If you want to fly helicopters, you need more than just flight experience. Most companies require at least 2-years of college: in other words, the completion of an associate degree program. The minimum requirement for any job flying helicopters is a commercial pilot's license with a helicopter rating. To obtain this, you can attend one of the 600 FAA certified civilian flying schools and you need at least 250 hours practical experience flying a helicopter. You can attend a non-certified program, but you should check with the FAA to ensure the hours you spend there count towards your licensure requirement.
Coursework while earning your associate degree can include:
Helicopters typically fly at low altitudes, meaning you need to learn how to look out for bridges, power lines, low-flying aircraft, trees, and transmission towers. You also learn how to monitor your instruments and warning devices, such as one that signals sudden shifts in the wind conditions, which could cause a crash if you don't know what to do.
- FAA regulations
- General education classes (English, math, etc.)
- Navigation techniques
- Principles of safe flight
What Careers Can I Get with a Helicopter Pilot Associate Degree?
You can do anything from flying executives in their own private helicopters to providing offshore oil rig support. Other helicopter pilot careers include:
- Agriculture support
- Air ambulance
- Aerial photography
- Charters and tours
- Electronic news gathering
- Fire fighting
- Law enforcement and tracking criminals
- Monitoring traffic
- Search and rescue operations
- Testing aircraft
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