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Department of Education and Skills

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  Paul Galvan
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Occupation Details

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Helicopter Pilot - Commercial

Job Zone

Most occupations in this zone require job specific training (vocational training) related to the occupation (NFQ Levels 5 and 6 or higher), related on-the-job experience, or a relevant professional award.

Related Experience
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, electricians typically complete four years of training in order to perform the job.

Job Training
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Job Zone Examples
These occupations usually involve using communication and organisational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include restaurant managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, hairdressers, and web developers.

€25k >  
Helicopter Pilot: Commercial
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€25 -  
Related Information:
Data Source(s):

Last Updated: March, 2013

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Helicopter pilots operate controls to fly a helicopter. They monitor equipment and instruments and, on larger helicopters they direct crew members.

The Work header image

Helicopter pilots operate the controls to fly a helicopter. Before taking off it is their responsibility to study the flight plan, the weather conditions and to familiarise themselves with any airspace restrictions that may be in place. They also have to calculate fuel requirements and supervise refueling. During the flight the monitor the equipment and remain in radio contact with air traffic control. 

After landing they must complete their duty hours and flight log books.

Work can be varied and at times stressful. Duties can include emergency ambulance work, search and rescue or ferrying workers to and from off shore installations.


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation


Check aircraft prior to flights to ensure that the engines, controls, instruments, and other systems are functioning properly.


Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.


Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight according to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.


Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.


Consider airport altitudes, outside temperatures, plane weights, and wind speeds and directions to calculate the speed needed to become airborne.


Order changes in fuel supplies, loads, routes, or schedules to ensure safety of flights.


Obtain and review data such as load weights, fuel supplies, weather conditions, and flight schedules to determine flight plans and identify needed changes.


Plan flights according to government and company regulations, using aeronautical charts and navigation instruments.


Use instrumentation to pilot aircraft when visibility is poor.


Check baggage or cargo to ensure that it has been loaded correctly.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.


Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment:  Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.


Controlling Machines and Processes:  Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).


Making Decisions and Solving Problems:  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.


Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings:  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.


Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.


Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.


Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships:  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.


Handling and Moving Objects:  Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.


Getting Information:  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.


Processing Information:  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.


Transportation:  Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.


Customer and Personal Service:  Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.


Public Safety and Security:  Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.


Mathematics:  Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


English Language:  Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.


Operation and Control:   Controlling operations of equipment or systems.


Operation Monitoring:   Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.


Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


Instructing:   Teaching others how to do something.


Judgment and Decision Making:   Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Monitoring:   Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.


Complex Problem Solving:   Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Coordination:   Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

As a helicopter pilot you will need good clear communication skills both with the other crew members and with Air Traffic Control.  
The ability to inspire confidence in both passengers and air crew is very important. You will need to be able to make quick decisions in emergencies and to accept considerable responsibility. You need to be able also to communicate and give instructions. You will have to be self-confident, capable of working alone and of making quick decisions.  
A high level of concentration and attention to detail is also necessary.

Entry Routesheader image

Entrants typically hold a relevant degree in an area such as: engineering; mathematics; computing; aeronautical or meterological engineering; or physics.

Across Europe, all pilots are required to be licensed by the Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) before being able to fly or command an aircraft. In Ireland JAA licences are issued and enforced by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). 

To work as a professional pilot you must have a commercial pilot's licence (helicopter) CPL-(H) which is only achieved through courses at an Irish Aviation Approved Training Organisation (ATO). A list of ATOs is available here.
You must also pass a medical exam.

See also IAA 'How to become a pilot'

Last Updated: March, 2015

Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

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Go..Helicopter Pilot - from:  N.C.S. [UK]

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image


Organisation: Irish Aviation Authority
  Address: Training Centre, Ballycasey, Shannon, Co. Clare
  Tel: (061) 366000
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


Organisation: Pilot Training College
  Address: Waterford Inetrnational Airport, Killowen, Waterford
  Tel: (051) 876706
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


Organisation: British Helicopter Association
  Address: Graham Suite, West Entrance, Fairoaks Airport, Chobham, Woking, Surrey GU24 8HX, UK
  Tel: + 44 1276 856 100
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


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Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...

...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Transport & Logistics

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