how much does it cost to get a helicopter license

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Helicopter License?

When it comes to pursuing a career as a helicopter pilot, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “How much does it cost to get a helicopter license?” The journey to becoming a skilled helicopter pilot involves a combination of training, education, and financial investment. In this article, we will delve into the various factors that contribute to the cost of obtaining a helicopter license, explore different training options, discuss the benefits of pursuing a degree, and provide insights into financing and budgeting.

Factors Affecting Costs

The cost of obtaining a helicopter license can vary significantly based on several factors. These factors include the type of training program you choose, the location of the flight school, the type of aircraft used for training, the duration of the program, and additional expenses like living costs and gear. Understanding these factors is crucial in estimating the overall cost of your helicopter pilot training journey.

Training Options

When embarking on your journey to become a licensed helicopter pilot, you’ll need to choose between university-based flight schools and non-university flight schools. University-based programs often offer the advantage of earning a degree alongside your pilot’s license, which can enhance your career prospects. On the other hand, non-university flight schools may offer more cost-effective training options but without the academic degree.

Benefits of a Degree

Opting for a degree program at a university-based flight school can offer significant advantages in the competitive job market. An associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree not only signifies your commitment to the field but also positions you above the competition. Degrees build trust, credibility, and demonstrate your passion for aviation, which can lead to higher-paying job opportunities in the long run.

Estimated Costs at University Flight Schools

Training at a university flight school involves not only flight fees and expenses but also university tuition. The overall cost varies based on the institution, the state of residency, and whether you’re pursuing an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Taking into account tuition, supplies, flight fees, and other costs, the total expense to obtain all necessary licenses and certifications can be around $130,000.

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Costs for Non-University Flight Schools

For those considering non-university flight schools, training costs can be more affordable upfront. Generally charging on an hourly basis, the cost for a private helicopter pilot’s license can range from $10,000 to $15,000. However, to qualify for high-paying jobs, you’ll likely need additional licenses like commercial and instrument ratings, which can add another $45,000 to your expenses.

Additional Expenses

While flight training is a significant part of the cost, aspiring pilots should also consider additional expenses. This includes the cost of living during training, transportation, and necessary flight gear such as headsets and flight suits. Proper budgeting for these expenses is crucial to avoid unexpected financial strain during your training journey.

Financing Options

Acknowledging the financial commitment, many flight schools offer financing options to assist students in managing the costs. These options can include student loans, payment plans, scholarships, and even utilizing veterans’ benefits. Exploring the available financing avenues and choosing the most suitable one for your situation is an essential step in your journey.

Investment in Career

While the cost of obtaining a helicopter license may seem significant, it’s important to view it as an investment in your future. The return on education (ROE) for helicopter pilots is noteworthy, with potential earnings exceeding the initial investment. Comparatively, the ROE for other professions like doctors and lawyers is lower, making helicopter pilot training a financially promising endeavor.

Veterans’ Benefits

For veterans, pursuing a helicopter pilot license can be financially supported through the GI Bill. This support can cover flight fees, tuition, and even housing costs in some cases. Leveraging veterans’ benefits can significantly alleviate the financial burden of training costs.

Career Opportunities

Becoming a licensed helicopter pilot opens doors to a range of career opportunities. From piloting for tours and transportation to emergency medical services and law enforcement, the potential career paths are diverse. The demand for skilled helicopter pilots continues to grow, translating into increased job opportunities and earning potential.

Training Programs and Certifications

The journey to becoming a licensed helicopter pilot involves acquiring multiple certifications and training programs. These certifications may include private helicopter pilot, commercial helicopter pilot, instrument rating, certified flight instructor, certified flight instructor instrument, and more. Each certification enhances your skills and widens your career possibilities.

Comparing Training Costs in Different Countries

It’s worth noting that the cost of obtaining a helicopter license can vary based on the country in which you choose to train. Factors such as local regulations, availability of training facilities, and the cost of living contribute to these variations. Researching training costs in different countries can provide valuable insights into finding the most cost-effective option.

Tips for Budgeting and Financial Planning

Effective budgeting and financial planning are crucial for managing the cost of helicopter pilot training. Consider creating a detailed budget that includes not only training expenses but also living costs, transportation, and gear. Exploring financing options, applying for scholarships, and seeking advice from financial advisors can all contribute to a well-structured financial plan.


In conclusion, obtaining a helicopter license is a significant investment that holds the promise of a rewarding and lucrative career. The cost varies based on factors like the type of training, degree programs, additional expenses, and financing options. While the expenses may seem substantial, the return on education and the array of career opportunities make it a worthy endeavor. Careful planning, researching options, and exploring financing avenues can help you navigate the path to becoming a skilled and licensed helicopter pilot.


  • A: Yes, many flight schools offer financing options, including loans, payment plans, and scholarships, to assist students with training costs.
  • A: Yes, non-university flight schools offer training without pursuing an academic degree, which can be a more cost-effective option.
  • A: In addition to flight training costs, consider expenses like living costs, transportation, and flight gear such as headsets and flight suits.
  • A: The return on education for helicopter pilots is notably higher, making it a financially promising career choice compared to professions like doctors or lawyers.
  • A: Yes, licensed helicopter pilots have diverse career opportunities, including piloting for tours, transportation, emergency services, and more. The demand for skilled pilots continues to rise.

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