How much does a rescue helicopter pilot make?

Updated February 21, 2017

Helicopters are commonly flown into areas generally inaccessible by traditional aircraft or regions that require quick access and egress. Rescue helicopter pilots specialise in emergency assistance, and their pay varies based on prevailing wages and employers.


Based on data provided by, in 2010 a rescue helicopter pilot in the United States earned between £34,273 and £55,342 a year. Pilots who work for government agencies or large corporations may receive health insurance benefits and retirement plans. Rescue pilots who are independent contractors set their own rates of pay and absorb the costs of benefits.

Investment Considerations

Although the wages for a rescue helicopter pilot are generally competitive with other careers, the investment for training and licensure is an important consideration. As of 2010, paying for an instructor, solo flight time and ground training to get a private pilot’s license costs between £6,500 and £9,750. To become a professional helicopter pilot and be hireable costs between £24,700 and £32,500.


Rescue helicopter pilots frequently earn more money for assisting in particularly dangerous rescues. They can also boost their incomes by contracting extra jobs with private companies and corporations that desire access to remote locations only accessible by helicopter.

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About the Author

Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.