How Much Does It Cost to Get A Helicopter Pilot’s License?

Posted: January 24, 2020 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 8 minutes

Price is probably the most commonly asked question when it comes to getting a helicopter pilot’s license. How much a program costs is going to be a big deciding factor when you’re looking into flight schools.  

The first thing you need to decide before looking too much into price is whether or not you want a degree with your license. If you choose to go to a flight school attached to a university, like Southern Utah University Aviation, then by the time you’re done with your training, you’ll also have an associate’s or even a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you get your training through a non-university flight school, your training will be less expensive, but you won’t have a degree when you’re finished. Helicopter Pilot License Costs

So why get a degree?

Having an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree will put you above the competition when you’re looking for jobs.  Degrees help to build trust and credibility and show that you are passionate about what you do. 

You can get a job without a degree, but having one will definitely put you above the competition and help you land a higher paying job. According to, you can make more money per year as a helicopter pilot with just an associate’s degree compared to no degree. That number goes even higher when you have a bachelor’s or master's degree. 

The cost of training at a university flight school:

Because you’re training at a university, you’ll have to pay university tuition in addition to your flight fees and other flight expenses. This means that the overall price of the program will vary depending on what school you’re attending and whether you’re paying in-state or out-of-state tuition. 

Not all universities have an attached flight program. Finding one with a great reputation, quality aircraft, and lots of resources should be your goal when looking at university flight schools. 

University flight schools often offer advanced training in addition to the required private pilot and commercial pilot licenses. The more training you have, the better prepared you’ll be to enter the workforce and start earning money. Also, the more training you have, the better chance you’ll have at getting those higher-paying jobs, since employers will know that you’re certified and experienced in many different areas. 

Once all tuition, supplies, flight fees, and other costs are taken into consideration, it will probably take around $130,000 to earn all your helicopter pilot’s licenses and certifications. 

This sounds like a large number, but remember that this takes into account all fees and costs of the program. If you’re quoted numbers that are much smaller than this at other schools, you may want to make sure you’ll graduate with at least 200 flight hours and are getting all licenses required to get a job flying helicopters (private, commercial, instrument), as well as your CFI and CFII. Sometimes schools offer fewer hours and licenses, such as only giving you a private and commercial license without the instrument so their price appears to be lower.

$130,000 is an estimate, this cost can fluctuate depending on tuition fees, fuel prices, and aircraft maintenance. Also, this number can go up depending on which aircraft you are flying. Depending on your weight, you may have to spend more on your education because you’ll have to fly in the larger aircraft, which takes more fuel. 

Keep in mind that earning your pilot’s license is an investment. Yes, you’ll be paying a lot of money to earn your license, but once you start working, you’ll be able to earn that money back and lots more. The return on education (ROE) for helicopter pilots is $40. This means that for every $1 you spend on your education, you can expect to earn about $40 back. To put this in perspective, the ROE for a doctor is $36 and the ROE for a lawyer is $30. 

If you’re paying out of pocket, then these are the prices you can expect to find at many university flight schools. If you’re a veteran, then your education may be covered by the GI Bill.  

Cost of Flight School for Veterans:

Veterans, because of your service to our country, you may be able to use your VA Benefits at flight school like SUU Aviation. Depending on the school, these benefits can be used to pay for all of your flight fees and tuition. All you would need to pay for is your medical exam, books, and supplies. Qualified veterans can even use BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) to cover some of your housing costs each month. 

Finding Funding and Landing Your First Job:

Flight school is a big investment. Before you’re able to attend, you ‘ll need to find funding. If you are going to a university flight school, then you’ll have access to many scholarships, pell grants, student loans, and FAFSA. 

There are lots of aviation scholarships that go unclaimed every year. A big reason for this is that people simply don’t know about them or don’t want to do the work it takes to apply. Chances are that if you’re willing to put in some work and apply for lots of scholarships, you’ll eventually be able to get some money for your schooling. 

You will likely be qualified to get a job as a flight school instructor after just two years of training. This is a common first job for new pilots. Going to a university flight school and working as an instructor is a great way to pay off your student loans. 

Student loans will eventually need to be paid off, but if you choose to pursue a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll be able to work as an instructor, earning money, and not yet have to pay back your loans. This way you can save up your money and pay off your loans much easier when the time comes. 

Finding funding for your flight school training can seem like a big challenge. However, if you know where to look, you are bound to find plenty of opportunities that will allow you to pay for your schooling without very much debt. The financial aid office at your university can help you find funding and put you in contact with different scholarships and other funding opportunities. 

The cost of training at a non-university flight school:

Every flight school will charge differently for flight training. Things that will affect the cost of getting your license include:

  • Instructor fees
  • Type of aircraft
  • Supplies
  • Aircraft fuel and maintenance
  • How long it takes

Many non-university flight schools charge students on an hourly basis rather than an overall price like a university. To earn your private pilot license, you can expect to pay about $30 to $40 per hour when training with a non-university flight school. This will likely add up to around $10,000 to $15,000 total. 

This is just for your private helicopter pilot’s license. This will be fine if your goal is simply to own a helicopter or fly a friend’s, but will not be enough to get you a job flying helicopters. To be able to work as a pilot you’ll definitely need your private license and commercial license, and probably your instrument license as well. Getting a commercial license will add about another $30,000-45,000 to your training. 

For the bare minimum licenses, you can expect to spend about $45,000-$70,000 at a non-university flight school.

Having your private, commercial, and instrument licenses will qualify you to fly helicopters for a living, but with only these three licenses, you probably won’t be able to find a very high paying job that you enjoy, and some of the most advantageous jobs to have, like being a flight instructor, will not be an option for you unless you pay for more training.

In order to land a high paying job, you should get as many licenses and certifications as you can. Depending on the non-university flight school, you may or may not get any advanced training, like high-density altitude training or long-line training. Unless they give you the same advanced training, you’ll get more for your money by attending a university flight school, even though training at a non-university flight school is cheaper. At a university flight school, you’ll graduate with a degree, advanced training, and more flight hours, all of which will help you land those coveted high paying jobs.

SUU Aviation

SUU Aviation is one of the highest-ranked university flight schools in the world. When you choose to train at SUU Aviation, you can be a fully qualified helicopter pilot in under two years. Because our program is so short, you can be out earning money and landing those high paying jobs sooner than you could if you went through a longer program.Cost to get a Helicopter Pilot Licenses

We offer an associate’s, bachelor’s, and a master’s degree in aviation. If you choose to get a bachelor’s degree your training will be over in under four years, and you may have the opportunity to work as a flight instructor while still going to school. 

In addition to the required helicopter pilot licenses, you’ll get advanced training that will put you above the competition and help you land a high paying job. The training you’ll get at our program includes:

  • private helicopter pilot 
  • commercial helicopter pilot 
  • instrument rating
  • certified flight instructor
  • certified flight instructor instrument
  • turbine transition
  • external load
  • mountain operations
  • night vision goggles

With all of these certifications, you’ll be more than prepared to enter the workforce and fulfill your dream of flying helicopters for a living. 

If it’s your dream to fly, then you can request more information or apply to SUU Aviation. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have regarding program cost or anything else. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tags: Aviation

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