Innovative Ideas and Strategies for Aeronautical Success

Aviation Career

blog image

Battle of the EMS Giants

March 01, 20234 min read

Battle of the Giants: The Air Ambulance Industry Gets Pay Raise

The two largest air ambulance companies are raising their wages in a head-to-head competition to stave off attrition and fill vacant pilot seats, BUT….

We have observed an uptick in senior-pilot Interview Prep Course enrollments. The junior-favored pay raises may demonstrate that the incentives may have unintended consequences. 

New Wages Increases

The helicopter industry is long overdue for a pay raise, and both companies now appear to be meeting the minimum salary for happiness. Business Insider and Forb’s studies indicate that the happiness-to-income ratio plateaus around $75,000 ($90,000 adjusted for inflation) because the essential bills are covered. 

Every scenario and lifestyle is different, so you will need to do your OWN calculations to determine the career that will feed your family. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to calculate your nest egg and free time for your ambitions.

Before the following pay increases, pilots earned between $54,000-$85,000 to start. With the new wage increases, pilots can now shed their second and third jobs, freeing up some days off to enjoy life a bit. 

GMR: Following a startling number of pilot exodus due to new financial incentives for helicopter pilots to become airplane pilots, Global Medical response kicked off 2022 with a pay raise because they realized how easy and fast it is for a helicopter pilot to transition to the airlines.

  • Starting pay $82,000

  • 11-18% pay increase with a 3% annual raise

  • $15,000 new hire bonus

  • $40k retention bonus paid out over 3 years

  • Various SPIFR, Base Manager, and Instructor Stipends

  • Geo-modifier stipend based on location (also subject to the 3% raise)

Air Methods: Responding to GMR’s record-breaking news, Air Methods circumnavigated their union contract with a pay raise, new-hire bonus, and sign-on bonus that rivals their competitor.

  • Starting pay $86,000

  • 14% pay increase

  • $15,000 sign-on bonus

  • $5,000 to $12,000 annual stipend based on location

Many senior pilots have expressed displeasure because a new pilot can now enter the company with higher earnings without paying their dues through the loyalty-incentivized seniority pay scales.


Both companies have similar schedules that have a structured 7/7 schedule. The start and end times vary from base to base but, generally speaking, have the following structure:

  • 7 days on: 7AM - 7PM

  • 7 days off

  • 7 nights on: 7PM - 7AM

Some GMR certificates, such as Reach Air Medical, blend the seven days on schedule with four days and three nights (or 3/4) following a sleep study on fatigue vs. safety.

Base Locations

The average 9-5 American job allows employees to see their family each evening and have eight days off per month. To be home every night and have enough sleep to perform a 14-hour duty day safely, a pilot should live as close to the base as possible. A one-hour drive would yield a maximum of two hours of useful consciousness if the 12-hour day wasn’t extended to 14 hours.

Both operators offer bases nationwide, with new bases often opening and closing as each company samples the competitive markets. Be sure to keep an eye on their websites for new base announcements. Add this question to your list of questions you should ask the company preparing for an interview.

Air Methods

Global Medical Response

Where to Apply


If you meet the minimums and want your application to see human eyes immediately, fill out the form! You may also send and email with your resume to We have a great working relationship with both companies and have found that the most successful candidates are set up with a base meet-and-greet and an internal mentor.

How to Prepare

There is so much more to the application process than having a killer resume and your logbooks up-to-date. It would help if you did the legwork on your background checks, driver's, and FAA pilot records.

  • “Describe a difficult situation and how did you handle it?”

  • “Tell me a time that you violated a regulation and what was the outcome?”

  • “How do react when a medical crew member challenges your decisions as a pilot in command?”

Before the airline pilot shortage, the number one reason for pilot attrition was company culture conflicts between the med-crew and pilot staff. All air medical recruitment staff will still need to be reassured that you are capable of contract preservation. If you need help preparing for these difficult questions, we offer custom-tailored interview prep for each company to increase your chances of getting hired.

Avic Air

Back to Blog


Sign up to be the first to find out when something new lands:





Large Call to Action Headline

A-V-I-C stands for Aviation Intelligence Community. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for aviators through shared experience. Be sure to join us on the social media sites @avicair, we love sharing ideas, experience, and intelligence to propel our industry forward.