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Agricultural Pilot Job Description, Career as a Agricultural Pilot, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: High school diploma and training

Median Salary: $45,000 per year

Job Prospects: Good

Job Description

Agricultural pilots fly planes over farms crops. They pilot planes for a variety of agricultural purposes, including to spray pesticides and insecticides, but mostly to ensure the integrity and safety of the produce being grown. This is a job in which flying a plane is key, as this is the main focus of the job, though it may be a bit more involved than other pilot jobs.

Agricultural pilots need to fly lower than most other pilots need to do in their jobs, and agricultural pilots often carry heavy loads as part of their job. Agricultural pilots are not only responsible for monitoring the plane and the flight itself, but they are also responsible for monitoring the load that they have on board, which is usually some sort of fertilizer or pesticide used to protect the crops. Because of this, they must have a great attention for detail.

Agricultural pilots may work only in certain parts of the country, which are warm year-round, or on a seasonal capacity. They may even have to take off from dirt roads or more remote parts because a runway in an agricultural area is not often an option. Therefore it is important that agricultural pilots be up for a challenge and be ready to take on a variety of different circumstances and environments as part of their job.

Training/Educational Requirements

There is not an educational requirement, though most agricultural pilots have at least a high school diploma. Though some of these pilots also may have a bachelor’s degree, this is not usually a requirement. Having a pilot’s license and experience in flying a plane is crucial.

There may be additional training for this role, though most of the training will happen while working on the job directly. When an agricultural pilot gets started, that pilot usually works under a more experienced individual in the field to gain experience not just in flying in this unique manner but in making arrangements to appropriately handle the plane’s load. There may be training courses available throughout an agricultural pilot’s career, though continued education is not necessarily required.

How to Get Hired

The best way to get hired initially is to have experience in flying a plane or simply to have a pilot’s license. As there is no educational background required, any experience in flight is a great way to get a foot in the door. Beyond that, gaining experience in the field is the best way to advance in the field. Sometimes working as a pilot in a different industry, such as commercial or private passenger flight, can be a great way to gain experience and apply it to a job within the agricultural field. Of course, because agricultural piloting requires such unique skills, flying experience outside of it may work in just the opposite manner. A potential employer may think that the applicant for the agricultural pilot job will be too set in ways to learn how to be a good agricultural pilot.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Though there is job competition among pilots, and specifically, those starting out have to really pay their dues, there is a need for agricultural pilots. With a more recent push for healthy and natural foods, it’s even more important to have agricultural pilots, who can fly the planes required to keep produce safe. There are always bound to be some agricultural pilot jobs available. Those wishing to enter this job may have to pay their dues, but they may also find just as much advancement if they prove to be good at what they do. This can be a lucrative field for those who gain experience and work well as an agricultural pilot.

Working Environment

The typical working environment for an agricultural pilot is the cockpit of an airplane. Though they may attend meetings or handle administrative functions occasionally, agricultural pilots spend most of their time on board a plane. Pilots may work out in the hangar with the rest of the flight staff to ensure that the plane is safe and ready to fly, but the majority of agricultural pilots’ time is spent preparing for flight or actually flying. There may be some unusual hours associated with this job, and there may be stressful circumstances, so it’s important for an agricultural pilot to keep a clear head throughout them.

Salary and Benefits

Though agricultural pilots can expect to earn upwards of $70,000 per year when they gain experience in the field, it takes time to get that figure. Many agricultural pilots start out at around $20,000 per year and work their way up as they gain experience and a good reputation. The employer and geographical location that an agricultural pilot is based out of can offer a strong indication on how much they earn as well. Typically agricultural pilots tend to earn the standard benefits with their salary, such as paid vacation and sick days, medical coverage, and perhaps even a pension savings account.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAgribusiness, Environment, and Natural Resources