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Subject: Job Market Questions
 
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wombosiUser is Offline
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03/27/2012 9:19 PM  
I have done extensive research on becoming a helicopter pilot, and was recently at pprune.org reading the very lengthy "would you become a professional pilot again?" thread. The problem with the thread is that it's 8-10 years old, and I'm trying to figure out how much of the information is still relevant as regards to heli pilot job market, the demand, the pay and lifestyle, etc... I'm finding a lot of information but very little of it seems to be reliable and current. I spoke with a school today with an instructor and was picking his brain. He told me about how there is a bunch of work off the Gulf coast and that those guys are making 150K. This is contrary to all my research, which tells me it's more like 40-50K. Maybe there is a sticky thread on this subject on this forum you guys could point me toward? If not, I will ask a bunch of questions, but I'm sure they have already been asked. Thanks! PS: Going for my first demo flight on Friday! Pretty damn excited. I'm worried I'll like it as much as I think I will, because then I'll have to do something about it...
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03/28/2012 11:46 AM  
I just took a look at that old post from 2002. So far it seems that the newbies back then were having the same problems as the newbies now! Some say there's a demand for pilots, others respond, "then why can't I find a job?" Some say it sucks, others say "I have a great job!". Some make it, some don't, I guess its all a roll of the dice no matter what year it is!
wombosiUser is Offline
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03/28/2012 6:17 PM  
right. seems like, as with anything else, the career can be what you make it, as long as the expectations are reasonable, and you have all the skills and credentials. it also seems like someone who can be very flexible with location and living conditions will have a good chance at finding work. but it doesn't sound like wages in the helicopter field have risen much in 10-15 years, if at all. and maybe this is true for many other industries, too.
HiAk!User is Offline
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03/29/2012 3:07 PM  
Overall I would say there is high demand for pilots.  Almost everywhere I've worked has been under piloted.  However, it seems that it is more difficult to find that first job out of instructing.  For so many years companies in the gulf were the first opportunity for flight instructors to make it into the industry.  They spent enormous money and resources training these pilots constantly.  PHI, where I started, was putting as many as 16 new hires a month through the program.  They did this for several years.  I think these companies got tired of being a revolving door, so they upped their minimum requirements to a point it is difficult for CFI's to attain.  However, once you get yourself into the industry it is not very difficult to find a job, and there are some great paying jobs out there.
Starting salary in the gulf is somewhere between 55-57k these days for a VFR captain.  Once you move into IFR capt and do a little work over it may be possible to pull the 150K a year. 
Schedules vary greatly depending upon employer.  Some have the strict day on/ day off with varying rotational schedules, others will give you the FAR required 14 days off a quarter.  You can work as hard or as little as you want, and the salary range is fairly broad. 
Flight school is getting expensive and the opportunities for post CFI are becoming more competitive.  I would ask yourself "do I love flying?"  If you love it and it is the only thing you could imagine doing then I would not hesitate to start training.  If it seems cool and you're interested because people have hyped it up, maybe you should pass up on it.
You will work hard to progress, it will most likely take many years and several company changes to gather the experience you need to make yourself marketable.  Most often company changes involve moving, somewhere far far away.  While you are gathering experience stay single, or have a spouse that is very willing to relocate and be comfortable with you being gone for extended periods of time (my .02)

Networking is very important.  Most often (at least during my time training) students end up going to work where their instructors went to work because of the "word" that was put in for them.  Find out how many instructors have moved on and where they went.  Certain schools have excellent reputations with future employers and this can be a big leg up when looking for that first job.
It sounds like you are doing some research, keep doing it.  This is a huge financial commitment and you need to make sure your 50-70k (and increasing yearly) investment is going to pay dividends for you
clipperdudeUser is Offline

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03/29/2012 6:48 PM  
Posted By HiAk! on 03/29/2012 3:07 PM
Overall I would say there is high demand for pilots.  Almost everywhere I've worked has been under piloted. 


Yes the demand for pilots is there. Keep in mind though, the demand is for "highly qualified" pilots, i.e. pilots with experience in the GOM, EMS, ENG, Long-line, "carded", etc... Once you have around 3000hrs it seems the industry opens up for you. If you can get there?.......................................................It seems I can no longer seperate paragraphs, that used to only be a Mac problem?,...what's up?
boatpixUser is Offline
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04/06/2012 5:36 AM  
I advertised on all these forums back in 2002 and continuously still now in 2012. Nothing has changed and I advertise because we have exactly what you are looking for: a plan to train you and move you as quickly as possible into a turbine helicopter job. The key is to find a school that can train you and has a plan for you as a student to work for the flightschool and the flightschool has something other than training for you to do. We have this little boat photo contract for a company I started in 1981 and we put our instructors on that duty on the weekends for 8 hours each Saturday and Sunday. During the week we train students with instruction. History has shown that this gets you quickly and cheaply to a job first with us and then to the entry level turbine jobs at 1000 hours. Now, the entry level jobs will pay a fraction of the more senior jobs after you prove yourself with the entry level job that generally goes from point A to point A which is a ride. Then from point A to point B which is an air taxi. Then from point A to point B to point C with the last leg going to the hospital and the intermediate stop picking up the injured on a roadway or remote site.   Landing at the hospital or picking up a guy 50 miles into the darkness on a rainy night and landing at a place you've never been to is sort of for the more experience pilot and is NOT entry level.  You can see that the more difficult job requires some additional experience and hours and  as a result pays more. Sometimes, a lot more, particularly if you are in a place no one wants to be.   But that only makes sense that a person has more hours and experience is not entry level.   My entry level jobs pay $20/hour and require 300 hours TT and at least 100 hours in our make and model on our contract. If you don't have a job or are in a flight school that you know doesn't have a job for you when you complete then use logic and switch to us. And yes, we have great financing because we are going to give you a job and you an repay your loan. We are currently flying in So Cal, Havasu, Texas and all our Florida helicopters are very busy (hey, I was out sailing last night). Call me and I can explain how it has worked out for every one of my students and how we have great loans if you have a cosigning parent that has reasonable credit and reasonable income. Tom McDermott 561-346-2816 www.HelicopterAcademy.com.

The entry level turbine jobs that train you are going to pay less but you should be happy to take any of those jobs as in about a year you will then fly for the cross town competitor that pays more.  Then when you have proven yourself with lots of hours you will then go to a more demanding job and perhaps a more interesting job and these might pay more.   But, if you go to a flight school and they don't hire you your career has most likely ended unless you can find a guy like me.  A guy that figured out something to do with piston helicopters that didn't rely on training.  So, we can hire everybody that comes through our door and has 300 hours heli and 100 hours in our helis on our contract. 
clipperdudeUser is Offline

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04/06/2012 11:22 AM  
Posted By boatpix on 04/06/2012 5:36 AM
...if you go to a flight school and they don't hire you your career has most likely ended unless you can find a guy like me.  A guy that figured out something to do with piston helicopters that didn't rely on training.  So, we can hire everybody that comes through our door and has 300 hours heli and 100 hours in our helis on our contract. 


Would you hire a CFI who has more than 300hrs, but no Mariner time, and let him just teach until he has the 100hrs in a Mariner to get hired on your photo contract?
boatpixUser is Offline
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04/08/2012 1:50 PM  
The cfi needs the experience ON the photo contract and doing our PHOTO work low level and at high and low speed. I could hire someone just to teach but the only way to get the experience doing the photo job is actually being trained for that. We need the cfis to be able to teach and do photo and that's one of the reason my pilots can get 1000 hours in a year. But, back to the experience. You want an experienced doctor and lawyer but MORE SO an experience pilot and one who is not learning without instruction. This is why most passengers are carried by pilots with 1000 hours and medivac requires even more hours to do the more complicated street and hospital landings. We once had a guy buy like 27 or 28 hours and then got a job flying a leased helicopter doing some similar boat photo work with a competitor but at a race or poker run. The pilot was Ben M. and the professional photographer was Jamie R and the helicopter was a new Beta II. It ended up quickly in the water and smashed with some injuries. The pilot that flew about 27 or 28 hours with us after he got his CFI somewhere else probably wasn't ready, right? He certainly didn't finish all the training with us and immediately I had a lot of questions. The photographer seemed to be over 250 pounds the last time i met him and the helicopter had the tanks topped off. So, by my quick estimate they were way over gross weight. There were a bunch of other things that 50 tanks of fuel and 100 hours in my aircraft would have probably taught this guy but he had another plan and ran out of airspeed, power or options. We have had training accidents and we have had stupid pilot doing stupid unauthorized things (like landing in the water, or practicing ag turns instead of taking pictures of boats) accidents but never one while actually taking pictures. Before I had the training schools and when I was flying hundreds of hours a year in rented, leased or chartered helicopters, I would perhaps once a year have to try to suggest to a pilot I thought there was a better way of doing things and usually they would agree.

I suggest all those interested in our program or a job to call me at 561-346-2816.

clipperdudeUser is Offline

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04/08/2012 4:45 PM  
So,...short answer,...no.
oceancowboyUser is Offline
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04/09/2012 12:41 AM  
Posted By clipperdude on 04/08/2012 4:45 PM
So,...short answer,...no.

I agree... but what was the question?
oceancowboyUser is Offline
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04/09/2012 12:56 AM  
Whenever you ask a question, always consider what the person you are asking has to benefit from his or her response. Would it be in the CFI's best interest to paint a picture of doom and gloom, or build ones hopes using the old fable 'all the vet pilots are retiring soon resulting in a severe shortage of pilots' (yeah, we've all heard that one, it's been around for years).

All it takes to get into this industry is copious amounts of money and huge personal sacrifices.

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING A CFI TELLS YOU, instead approach professionals in the industry face to face and asked them how they got to where they are today, and what, if anything, would they do different.


clipperdudeUser is Offline

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04/09/2012 12:46 PM  
Posted By oceancowboy on 04/09/2012 12:41 AM
Posted By clipperdude on 04/08/2012 4:45 PM
So,...short answer,...no.

I agree... but what was the question?


Look Five posts up. I'm pretty sure I can believe his answer.
loav8rUser is Offline
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04/14/2012 12:35 PM  
It's a tough question but a question that I believe isn't attached only to the helicopter pilot community. I know folks that are attorneys and they've said, "Heck no, I would have chosen a different career;" but, they have a nice lifestyle. The same is true with us. First, you have to want to do it (or learning will be the worst act possible for you next to jabbing a dull #2 pencil through your left eye). Next, you need a plan and it must include goals. What's your primary objective and how can you attain it? Is it via Company A, then B, C, and finally...you're there? Once you have these goals, you must stay focused on them while still learning more about your profession as you continue to fly.

I will tell you a fact that applies to me and it may apply to many others. Here's the fact; we've experienced a financial crises over the past few years (though it's hard to see when you always seem to notice a waiting line at Outback Steakhouse or Bonefish) and many folks have lost their jobs or have taken pay cuts. I, however, have not experienced this because I was, "lucky" enough to have chosen a profession (at about the age of 8) that was in demand if you had the right experience and type ratings (most countries outside the US consider an aircraft qualification a "Type Rating"). I'm lucky enough to be flying the S-76 and flying it in support of the oil/gas industry overseas. Oil/Gas is booming overseas (especially in Africa) and the demand for pilots/aircraft is very high. My compensation and benefits have gone "UP" during the financial crisis and only because I happened to have been in the right aircraft; supporting the right industry; in the right countries at the right time - luck has much to do with it.

There is no definite answer but other's experience can help guide you in your decision making process. You have to work in some profession in order to support yourself and/or your family - find one that best suits your lifestyle (there is a lifestyle associated with this industry). Good luck.
skipperUser is Offline
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04/15/2012 9:43 AM  
Good post loav8r. All true they way I see it. The one point that I see as especially true is "There is a lifestyle associated with this industry".
boatpixUser is Offline
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06/08/2012 4:44 PM  
It does seem that the pilots that aren't married and don't have kids have the ability to seek the far away job and this is somehing to keep in mind.  
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06/18/2012 9:30 AM  
Posted By boatpix on 06/08/2012 4:44 PM
It does seem that the pilots that aren't married and don't have kids have the ability to seek the far away job and this is somehing to keep in mind.  

I completely agree. It has helped me to be able to pick up and go anytime I wanted in order to get that last minute contract job.

I also want to add that there is no shortage of pilots. There is however a shortage of qualified pilots willing to work for peanuts or under bad conditions. I only have 4000+ hours but have had the privilege of flying lots of different jobs including internationally with their own challenges and I've learned from every one of them. You have to be willing and able to go where the jobs are. I know some pilots who are qualified for jobs and would love to take them but they have kids in school or a wife with a job and in today's economy it's risky to have your wife give up a good job when she might not get one where your new job would be.

There's no quick fix solution and although I hate the term it's a reality that you have to pay your dues in order to succeed. There are always a few who were at the right place at the right time and got a cushy job but those are very few. Keep working toward your goal and you'll get there sooner or later.

Be safe,

Carlos



Self discipline is when you do something that you know is right even though you don't want to do it. As a professional and safe pilot you have to maintain control over your desires & emotions. Have INTEGRITY and great WORK ETHIC and you'll succeed in life.
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06/18/2012 9:36 AM  
Posted By wombosi on 03/27/2012 9:19 PM
...Going for my first demo flight on Friday! Pretty damn excited. I'm worried I'll like it as much as I think I will, because then I'll have to do something about it...

What happened after that demo flight?

Self discipline is when you do something that you know is right even though you don't want to do it. As a professional and safe pilot you have to maintain control over your desires & emotions. Have INTEGRITY and great WORK ETHIC and you'll succeed in life.
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