Aerial Applicator / Agricultural Pilot

Aerial Applicator / Agricultural Pilot

Agricultural pilots fly small planes at low altitudes in order to apply pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides on fields. It is an efficient way to spread these applications as it reduces the number of times a farmer has to drive over the field, reducing soil compaction. Agricultural pilots must be able to mix and add chemicals for application, maintain their airplane and equipment, and keep records of applications to report back to the grower.
What Responsibilities Will I Have?: 
  • Apply essential pesticides, fertilizer or fungicides to crops
  • Assist firefighters in the containment and extinguishing of forest fires
  • Mix and add chemicals to be applied in the plane
  • Work to keep airplane and equipment properly maintained
  • Keep track of applications and report back to grower
  • Invoice growers for services performed
  • Consider air speed, wind and weather to determine if conditions are appropriate for application and flying
  • Mentor and help train new pilots
  • Maintain certifications and licenses required for flying and chemical application
  • Scout fields for problems that may be a danger to aerial application such as electrical wires or structures
  • Get to know farmers and landowners in order to build clientele¬†
Recommended High School Courses: 
The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, chemistry, business and mathematics.
Education/Training Required: 
You have to have a commercial pilot license through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the required flying hours and medical examinations. You must also attend agricultural pilot training to pursue a career as an agricultural pilot.
Future Job Market Outlook: 
Typical Employers: 
Most aerial applicators are self-employed and work directly with local farmers or through a local agricultural retailer.
Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations: 
  • National Agricultural Aviation Association
  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • United States Pilots Association
Average Annual Full-Time Salary: 
$79,000
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Salary data is provided by the AgCareers.com Compensation Benchmark Review™. These salaries should be considered as examples and are provided for educational and exploratory purposes. The salary information provided should not be used as a benchmark. Actual salaries are influenced by numerous variables including but not limited to demographics, size and scope of the role, level of experience, qualifications, and education of the worker.